Bragging rights

Ishpeming beats rival Westwood after falling to another rival earlier in week

ISHPEMING — The Hematites girls basketball team earned Ishpeming High School bragging rights Friday night, downing next-door rival Westwood 41-27.

After suffering a defeat to their neighbor in the other direction, Negaunee, earlier in the week, Ishpeming head coach Ryan Reichel was proud of his team’s response Friday.

“Coming back from a tough loss and back into it with another rival was a good test for us,” Reichel said.

“We played Westwood’s style early on, and it kept us out of sorts.

“By the third quarter we were on a little run, and it helped us break the game open.”

The Hematites’ game-changing run came as a response to adversity late in the first half, when junior guard Katie Loman sustained a leg injury during a Westwood sideline out-of-bounds play with the score tied 12-12.

Loman did not return, but her team rallied in her place.

The run started with an untouched layup from Ishpeming’s Khora Swanson, putting the Hematites on top 14-12.

Madigan Johns tacked on a free throw to give Ishpeming a slim 15-12 lead at halftime.

Reichel knew his players were stepping up to fill the void of Loman’s absence.

“All of our players love this team,” Reichel said. “They play for each other. When they see a teammate down, they want to pick them up and step up.

“We could see that everyone started to play harder.”

The home team didn’t lose momentum in the locker room, as Hannah Smith came out and nailed a jumper on Ishpeming’s first possession of the third quarter to extend their lead to 17-12.

Mariah Austin’s attack then caught fire for the Hematites, scoring eight straight points in two minutes to put Ishpeming ahead 25-12.

Reichel said his team was off to the second half start he was hoping for in the locker room.

“We wanted to get energy at the half so we got Skittles for all of the girls,” Reichel said. “We wanted to get simple sugars to them and put it to use.

“I think it worked, as we played hard the whole second half until the end of the game.”

For Westwood head coach Kurt Corcoran, he knew his team was in trouble with the slow start to the third quarter.

“The big cliche coaches say at halftime is the first three minutes of the second half will make or break your game,” Corcoran said. “We came out and doubled down in the posts and left their shooters open, and that’s Ishpeming’s style of game.

“We fell apart defensively for a minute and a half.”

Ishpeming’s Madigan Johns led the game in scoring with 13 points.

Reichel said the junior guard has evolved into a team leader for the Hematites.

“Johns played hard and forced a few shots, but that’s what players who want to win do,” Reichel said.

“I was proud of her effort, and it rubbed off on the whole team.

“The win was a team effort, but (Johns) runs our offense, and we go how she does.”

Elizabeth Farley led the Patriots in scoring with eight points.

Ishpeming (10-2) returns to action hosting Iron Mountain at 7:30 p.m. Monday, while Westwood (7-5) travels to Norway on Tuesday.

Ray Bressette can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 251. His email address is rbressette@miningjournal.net.