Calumet romps past Bark River-Harris 69-34 and into MHSAA Division 3 girls basketball regional final

Calumet's Caitlyn Strom, center, puts up a short jumper for two points in the fourth quarter between Bark River-Harris defenders Alaska Peterson, left, and Marissa Ives in their MHSAA Division 3 regional tournament semfinal game played in Marquette on Tuesday. (Photo courtesy Daryl T. Jarvinen)

MARQUETTE — The Calumet Copper Kings look almost unbeatable playing their “A” game of tough defense and lethal transition baskets.

The Bark River-Harris Broncos got a dose of that on Tuesday evening in the MHSAA Division 3 regional semifinals, falling 69-34 in the Barb Crill Gymnasium at Marquette Senior High School.

Calumet (20-2) jumped out early and that ultimately decided the game. As the Copper Kings disrupted the offense of the Broncos (15-7), they took advantage of turnovers for plenty of easy transition buckets.

Laina Kariniemi kicked off the scoring with a jumper, and the Broncos answered with a pair of free throws from Lauren Zawada to knot the game 2-2. Then Calumet responded with a 16-2 run to end the quarter, and that 18-4 lead created the separation the Copper Kings needed.

“They just keep coming at you, and they’re physical,” BR-H coach Matt Richer said. “They keep poking at the ball, and if you get by one, there’s two more girls coming.

“We took care of it early, but then we couldn’t make shots, and then they turn you over so quick.”

The Broncos came out in a zone defense, but combined with the turnovers, Calumet handled it well. Five Copper Kings scored in the opening quarter for the quick 14-point bulge.

Bark River came out playing better to start the second quarter, but Calumet always had an answer. Buckets by the Broncos’ Zawada and Alaska Peterson cut the Calumet lead to 22-9, and after a pair of free throws missed by Lizzie Torola, the Broncos grabbed the rebound but threw the ball away downcourt.

This turnover felt bigger than others with Bark River having the chance to cut the deficit to only 10. Instead, Calumet capitalized on the change in momentum and finished the half on a 12-2 run.

“It starts with our pressure on defense and getting steals and getting the ball up the floor quick,” Calumet coach Matt Laho said. “A lot of times, players want to rush against the zone and take quick shots, but if you move it a little bit and be patient, things will get wide open.

“They work hard on sprinting up the floor and getting up the court, so it makes it easier for us if we can get transition points or get right into the offense.”

The third quarter was nearly even, with the Copper Kings holding a 13-11 scoring edge. BR-H’s Cara Zawacki had a huge third quarter with three triples for nine of her team’s 11 points in the frame. But the 3-point barrage wasn’t enough to get the Broncos back in it and they still trailed 47-22 after three.

It was Aspen Fredrick’s turn in the fourth quarter to score for Bark River-Harris, getting all nine of her points in the fourth. A 3-pointer from Nina Bower gave the Broncos a 12-point quarter. But Calumet scored 22, led by Caitlyn Strom and Marybeth Halonen, for the 35-point margin of victory.

The Kings didn’t have a single player score more than six points in a quarter as they finished with four players in double figures. Jana Loukus led all scorers with 16 points, Caitlyn Strom had 14, Marybeth Halonen 11 and Alexis Strom 10.

“That’s kind of how we’ve been all year, in games like this especially, the girl who’s open takes the shot, gets the points, and they don’t care too much about the stats,” Laho said. “They just want to get the victory.”

Zawacki led the Broncos with 11 points, Fredrick added nine, and Zawada had six.

Despite the tough loss, Bark River-Harris had a season to remember, one that saw them capture the school’s first-ever Division 3 district title after many years of playing in Division 4 and Class D.

“We were playing our best basketball at the end of the season, I wish we had played better tonight,” Richer said. “The way we improved as a team, I’m really proud of, and the first-ever district in Division 3 for Bark River, the girls will always have that.”

Calumet moves onto the D-3 regional championship to be played at 7 p.m. today in Engadine. The Copper Kings will take on undefeated Maple City Glen Lake, which defeated St. Ignace 53-34 Tuesday.

Travis Nelson can be reached by email at tnelson@miningjournal. net.


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