Ishpeming Hematites get girls basketball season off to fast start with 41-26 win at Gladstone

Season openers can be hit or miss for any team, regardless of sport.

For both the Gladstone and Ishpeming girls basketball teams, Thursday’s season opener at the Braves’ gym provided a little bit of both in the Hematites’ 41-26 victory.

“It was sloppy. But the first games of the season are always sloppy,” Ishpeming head coach Ryan Reichel said. “I was happy with the defensive intensity and just the way we played got up and down the floor. We’ve got to clean up some things, but overall I’m pretty happy with how hard we played defensively.”

“There’s some little things that we could have done better that would have kept us in the game and would have made it a really good game,” Gladstone coach Andy Cretens said. “I felt like we were ready. Kind of frustrating, but it’s understandable because it’s the first game.”

After falling behind 22-5 in the second quarter, a free throw from sophomore Lillie Johnson and a pair of free throws from junior Tia Schone helped get the home team’s offense back on track. After a defensive stop, Johnson held the ball on the right wing of the offensive end.

Face to face with a defender, Johnson dribbled the ball, crossed over to leave her defender off balance, stepped back and drained a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to 22-11. Ishpeming responded with a 5-0 solo run from senior Jenna Maki to carry a 27-11 lead into halftime.

Though Maki drained a free throw to open the third quarter, the Braves refused to allow the game to get even more out of hand.

Johnson added three straight points. Hematites sophomore Mya Hemmer connected inside the paint. Schone banked a 3-pointer off the glass and drove to the hole for a layup to go on a 5-0 run of her own. Hemmer connected in the paint once again and senior Addison Morgan added a free throw as Ishpeming kept a 33-19 lead by the end of the third.

After Braves junior Mayce Hanson scored the fourth quarter’s first points to pull her team within 12, the Hematites began to really pull away with a 7-0 run featuring a Hemmer layup and a 3-pointer from sophomore Janessa Eagle that made it 40-21.

“(In) the last two minutes we showed what we could do with our grit,” Reichel said. “We stopped some things. They didn’t get a shot off the last couple possessions. They were trying to, and that was just because they didn’t get an opportunity to get a look. So I was really happy with that part of the game.”

Maki led all players with 10 points while Eagle totaled nine, Hemmer seven and Swanson six.

In the end, the Braves committed 31 turnovers.

“We know this is one of the better teams we’ll play all year, potentially one of the better teams in the (Upper Peninsula),” Cretens said. “We defended pretty well. I thought we did pretty well rebounding-wise as well. We’ve just got to do a better job offensively taking care of the ball and taking better shots.”

Johnson led the Braves with nine points, while Schone had eight points.

The Hematites host Westwood at 7:15 p.m. Monday, then travel to Calumet at 5:45 p.m. Thursday.


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