Girls basketball: Iron Mountain builds lead, beats ‘flat’ Norway

Iron Mountain's Saylor Swartout (12) shoots as Norway's Teiona Fuson defends on Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018, in Iron Mountain, Mich. (Adam Niemi/Iron Mountain Daily News)

IRON MOUNTAIN — Iron Mountain girls basketball coach Katelynn Johnson notched her first win as the Mountaineers beat Norway 59-32 on Tuesday.

Iron Mountain (1-7) held the Knights (3-6) to a single point for most of the first quarter and limited them to two in the third quarter.

Riley Poupore had 21 points and nine rebounds for Iron Mountain.

Johnson said the team has come together since the Mountaineers lost their season-opener against the Knights on Nov. 28.

“Team unity. We played together as a team a lot better. We rebounded a lot better and boxed out. We were aware of where some of their best players were on the floor,” Johnson said. “Our defense is totally different. A lot of things have changed since then. We’ve gotten better at some things. We’re not where we want to be yet but we’re slowly getting there. A lot has changed since that first time we played them. Now we’re going to see them again in districts, so it’s not over yet with them.”

Haley Clifford led Norway with eight points.

Iron Mountain shot 21 of 43 overall including 2 of 5 from long range.

Norway shot 10 of 47 overall, just 21 percent on the night. The Knights were 5 of 25 on 3-pointers.

“We just came out so flat. This is our first game since before Christmas break and when you get it it’s nice because you can put new things in and get a lot of reps, but nothing like game speed,” Norway head coach Joe Tinti said. “It was evident that Iron Mountain was hungry for their first win this year. They came out with that 1-3-1 and they played it well. I didn’t have the girls prepared for 1-3-1 and that falls on me. That caught us off-guard.”

Norway, playing its first game after Christmas break, ran into another scoring deficit in the third quarter, being held to two points for most of it until finding another bucket in the final minute. Tinti said the team has had a rough stretch of luck as Holly Mattia and Callie Paul both went down this season with ACL tears.

“We came out flat just not up to game speed. We’re hurting in numbers. We’ve got a couple injuries,” Tinti said. “At practice we’re not even scrimmaging ourselves at times and you can’t mimic game speed. Iron Mountain had that. They had a game and they’re hungry. We just couldn’t match them step for step until we already had a pretty big hole … I think our shooting percentage was off tonight, we struggled at the line. As we get more practices in and more game speed that’ll improve for us.”

Johnson said the defensive switch also was a key to Iron Mountain’s success.

“Last time I think we played them man. Our man defense is getting better but … we struggle with a little bit,” Johnson said. “We switched to a 1-3-1 and it seemed to work well for us. Hanna Ellis was really at the top of the key. Saylor Swartout was floating back and forth with their guards. Bri Hoffman hustles her butt off on the baseline and Faith Bal and Riley Poupore really know when to drop opposite guard side. Totally different defense and it seemed to work well for us.”

Rebounding has been a continual focus for Iron Mountain throughout the season, Johnson said.

“I definitely have pushed rebounding a lot,” she said. “We do a lot of rebounding drills and no matter where they are on the floor you got to get into them and not let them get the rebound. It’s always important to box out no matter where they are.”

Johnson, who graduated college, found a job teaching at Iron Mountain and got engaged all within the past month, said her celebration plans were muted by having to be up early to teach today.

“I am so excited, I don’t know. I don’t even know. I’ve got to go to school tomorrow so I should probably go home and go to bed,” she said. “I’ll probably go home and watch some film, honestly. That’s what I do all the time. Maybe I’ll go get some ice cream or something.”

Both teams face each other again in the district tournament at the end of the season.

Norway JV won 41-27.

Iron Mountain plays at Ishpeming on Thursday. Norway hosts Stephenson on Tuesday.

Norway 4 16 4 8 — 32

Iron Mountain 16 14 17 12 — 59

NORWAY (32): H. Clifford 8, M. Clifford 6, Stanchina 6, Bal 4, Fuson 3, Casanova 3, VanHolla 1, Faull 1. FT: 5-14. F: 18 (VanHolla fouled out). FG: 21-43. 3PT: 2-5 (Swartout 2). Rebounds: 25 (Poupore 9).

IRON MOUNTAIN (59): Poupore 21, Swartout 18, Hoffman 8, Bal 6, Stoner 4, Ellis 2. FT: 11-19. F: 18.