Miners finally shake off game Ishpeming boys

Negaunee’s Jacob Ennett, right, attempts a layup as Ishpeming’s Hart Holmgren blocks his way Friday night at Lakeview Memorial Gym in Negaunee. (Journal photo by Rachel Oakley)

NEGAUNEE — On a night where Negaunee honored its 1957 state championship team, the Miners kept the winning spirit alive with a 71-57 Mid-Peninsula Conference victory over Ishpeming on Friday night.

Negaunee head coach Dan Waterman said he was expecting a close match with their neighbors after the Miners defeated Ishpeming by 55 points back on Jan. 11.

“Any time you get a win against your archrival is huge,” Waterman said. “We knew it would be tighter this time around. Ishpeming is more experienced and better all around with good players, and both teams kept giving each other fits all night.

“It was a great win on a special night for this program.”

The Miners (11-3, 6-2 M-PC) were led in scoring by Trent Bell with 34 points and Dre’ Tuominen with 23, and the NHS offense went how the two seniors did throughout most of the night.

Bell opened the game with an 8-0 run of his own as he continued to find ways to cut through the paint and get to the basket.

The only obstacle that really slowed Bell was the free throw line, where he was 4 for 7 in the first quarter as the Miners jumped out to a 19-7 lead at the end of the period.

But the Hematites (7-7, 5-4) quieted Bell for the first half of the second quarter and put together an 8-2 run of their own to cut the deficit to 20-15.

Tuominen’s game picked up in the second quarter when he scored 10 points, but with five minutes left before halftime, Ishpeming’s Hart Holmgren made a steal off Negaunee’s Jacob Ennett and brought it the other way untouched for a slam dunk, energizing the Ishpeming part of the crowd and making it a three-point game.

While the Hematites outscored the Miners 22-19 in the second quarter, Bell picked up his scoring again at the end, netting five points in the final minute. It was topped off with a layup and the ensuing free throw for a three-point play with 1 second remaining.

That play gave him 22 points at halftime and put the Miners ahead 36-29.

The Hematites hung tough in the third, again outscoring the Miners, this time 14-11. Following Mitch Uhl’s layup to start the fourth, Ishpeming had pulled to within 47-45.

Ishpeming head coach Anthony Katona said his team started capitalizing on opportunities to put together their run.

“We had good team defense helping out,” Katona said. “We were feeding off that and forcing Negaunee to turn the ball over. We made every play count and scored on important possessions.”

Negaunee started forcing Ishpeming to turn the ball over to regain the edge in momentum, and with less than five minutes left, Bell grabbed two steals to net five points in a matter of 30 seconds.

Bell stole the ball from Dawson Dauphinais and returned it for a slam dunk of his own with 4:20 left, putting his team up 62-49 and forcing Ishpeming to call timeout.

The Miners’ bench cleared to congratulate Bell at center court for putting the game out of reach.

Waterman said the play of Bell and Tuominen was the difference in the game.

“We didn’t get as much as we normally do from our complementary players,” Waterman said. “(Bell and Tuominen) showed why they’re All-Upper Peninsula players.

“For us to be successful moving forward, we’re going to need a lot from those two guys.”

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