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Calumet girls basketball team pulls off comeback to advance to MHSAA semifinals

Calumet’s Laura Giachino, front, defends against a Maple City Glen Lake player during their MHSAA Division 3 quarterfinal basketball game on Monday in Houghton Lake. (Traverse City Record-Eagle photo by James Cook)

HOUGHTON LAKE — The Calumet girls basketball team overcame a 12-point deficit to hand Maple City Glen Lake its first and only loss of the season, 73-69, in the MHSAA Division 3 quarterfinals on Monday evening.

The Copper Kings were facing Kent City (20-0) Wednesday in the semifinals at Michigan State University’s Breslin Center in East Lansing.

It was to be Calumet’s first state semifinals appearance since winning the state title against Flint Hamady in 2015.

The winner plays in the Division 3 state finals at 3 p.m. Friday.

The Copper Kings (20-0) were led Monday by Elli Djerf’s 23 points. Alexis Strom scored 16 points with nine rebounds, while Marybeth Halonen added 15 with a trio of 3-pointers.

Grace Bradford led Glen Lake (19-1) with 14 points. Millie Foglesong scored 13 points. Maddie Bradford scored 12 points.

Copper Kings head coach Matt Laho credited his team leader, Djerf, for rallying the troops in the third quarter.

“When we got down by 12 (points) and called timeout in the third, Elli grabbed her teammates and said, ‘We can do this. Let’s play,'” Laho said. “And they went out and executed and chipped away at that lead.”

Laho said games have gotten harder and harder as the Copper Kings have advanced in the state tournament.

He said that as the game got underway, his girls were caught off guard by the speed in which the Lakers pushed the ball and how quickly they scored. And Glen Lake also had three or four tall girls.

“Once we slowed them down a little bit and got them to play half-court, it helped us a ton,” the coach said. “It took awhile for us to adapt to the tall girls, but once we were able to adjust and adapt to their length, we were fine.”

Calumet was down by two after the first period at 18-16 and down by one at halftime at 37-36.

“I told the girls at halftime to play our game, hit our spots and communicate,” Laho said.

After three quarters, the Lakers still led 54-52, but the last eight minutes belonged to the Copper Kings when they outscored Glen Lake 21-15.

“The girls are so excited,” Laho said. “They’ve played hard all year and it’s paid off.”

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