Girls basketball: West Iron County controls Norway in 66-28 win

West Iron County’s Eden Golliher (35) shoots against Norway on Friday, Dec. 1, 2017, in Norway, Mich. (Adam Niemi/Iron Mountain Daily News)

NORWAY — West Iron County took control early and held on for a convincing 66-28 non-conference win against Norway on Friday.

Sophomore point guard Anna Malmquist helped the Wykons (2-0) to a 10-1 run off the tipoff — she had six of those points. She finished with a game-high 15 points. Her early points came mostly from turnovers by Norway. The Knights battled inside against the Wykons’ bigs.

It was a tall task Norway (1-1) couldn’t handle with the likes of 6-foot-1 Emily Nelson and 6-foot Eden Golliher. When Norway focused too much on them, Malmquist found open lanes to the basket.

“She’s a sophomore, her head is always in the game. She likes the up-tempo game,” West Iron coach Eric Shamion said of Malmquist. “There’s times I always whisper in her ear to slow down. She really handles the press well for us and distributes the ball — and she can score.”

Nelson had 11 points and Golliher had 10 for the Wykons. Shamion said the size advantage was helped by being physical.

“We’re in the weight room for some of our practice. The girls don’t shy away from contact,” Shamion said. “That’s something I preach in practice also. We’ll continue to improve. It really pays dividends in the game

“We work hard on defense in practice and we preach defensive intensity,” Shamion added. “A lot of pressure especially on the ball — hands up. We try to turn those deflections into points.”

Ada VanHolla led the Knights with eight points. Haley Clifford had six.

Norway coach Joe Tinti said West Iron’s early run came when he tried an aggressive, physical approach to the Wykons’ bigs. The Knights looked for lanes to drive and pass inside, leading to turnovers and forced shots.

“I take responsibility for some of that run, I kind of wanted to see how they’d go against man to man,” he said. “We just weren’t prepared for a team of that caliber yet.”

He added that regardless of Norway’s approach on either side of the court, the Wykons’ size is a mismatch for his team.

“That’s a terrible matchup for us. Their size, it’s something you don’t match up with in our size school very often. We needed our guard play, we needed some quickness,” Tinti said. “They had some pretty quick guards which I was impressed with. It’s a game we needed someone to step up and hit five 3’s. We can’t go 10 of 24 from the free throw line. We have a lot to work on, but it’s a great to prepare us for conference play which starts next week.”

West Iron held a 38-15 halftime lead after out-scoring Norway 16-4 in the second quarter. Tinti said he challenged his team to continue battling.

“If it was an away game, I’d say we didn’t get off the bus in the first half, but it was a home game,” Tinti said. “I talked to the girls, it’s about heart — what it means to wear navy and white. It means a lot to me and it means a lot to my girls but we got to show it.”

Shamion said the challenge coming from a big lead is maintaining momentum, not allowing the opponent to flip the tempo.

“When we start to gain a lead, I’m always talking to the girls on the bench. They understand the game,” Shamion said. “When they go in, it’s a lot of fun for me to watch them perform. They know what to do with the ball. They know what I want them to do when they’re in. It really helps the team chemistry.”

Norway JV won 40-32.

West Iron hosts Iron Mountain on Tuesday.

Norway plays in its Skyline Central Conference debut at Rapid River on Tuesday.

West Iron 22 16 11 17 — 66

Norway 11 4 5 8 — 28

WEST IRON COUNTY: Malmquist 15, Nelson 11, Golliher 10, Stine 9, Laturi 9, Serbentas 8, Gasperini2, Pangrazzi 2. FT: 12-20. F: 15. 3PT: Stine 1, Laturi 1.

NORWAY: VanHolla 8, Clifford 6, Fuson 5, Bal 3, Stanchina 2, Casanova 2. FT: 10-24. F: 13. 3PT: VanHolla 1, Bal 1.