Girls basketball: Wykons beat Iron Mountain, repeat as district champs

West Iron County faces Ishpeming on Tuesday in regional semifinal

The West Iron County girls basketball team celebrates with the Class C District 94 trophy after beating Iron Mountain on Friday, March 2, 2018, in Iron Mountain, Mich. (Adam Niemi/Iron Mountain Daily News)

IRON MOUNTAIN — West Iron County bared down with a strong fourth quarter to repeat as district champions after beating Iron Mountain.

The Wykons (18-4) piled on 22 points in the final quarter of the 56-47 victory in the Class C District 94 title game.

“I thought the fourth quarter my girls got a little feisty, really fought for the ball, fought for the rebounds, sunk free throws,” West Iron County head coach Eric Shamion said. “They just did everything you need to do to put a game away in a hostile environment.”

Gallery: West Iron vs. Iron Mountain

West Iron advances to the Region 24 semifinal against Ishpeming at 5:30 p.m. EST Tuesday in Escanaba. The Hematites knocked Westwood 59-52 for the District 95 title.

The Wykons relied on what Shamion called a total team effort to hold off Iron Mountain and mainly Riley Poupore, who dented West Iron’s defense with a game-high 28 points.

“We knew when we came down here to Iron Mountain’s gym that they weren’t going to make it easy for us,” Shamion said. “Give them lots of credit — they’re feisty, they don’t make it easy for you on the offensive end. When we’re playing defense they keep coming at you. Riley Poupore poured in 28 on us. She’s a heck of a player. We couldn’t stop her tonight.

“It’s a culmination of a lot of hard work throughout the summer, throughout the fall to win the district championship. I’m really happy for these girls.”

As for Iron Mountain (6-16), a challenging rookie season for head coach Katelynn Johnson culminated in perhaps the Mountaineers’ best performance of the year. Down by 10 or more points a few times, Iron Mountain battled back to cut West Iron’s lead within five and in a couple instances, trimmed the deficit to within two points.

“We emphasized a lot in the locker room that you’re only down by 11,” Johnson said of the halftime deficit. “That’s reachable — cut it to five going into the fourth quarter and you’re in it. Hit some shots, kick the ball, get some rebounds, box out. They did just that. We cut it by one and we’re in it. They have a little bit of hope and momentum. When you get some momentum it can go a long way.”

But when the Mountaineers made a run, the Wykons never relinquished the lead.

“Every time Iron Mountain got close, we would hit a big shot from outside the arc,” Shamion said. “That’s a credit to those outside shooters. I’m really happy with the effort that the girls gave tonight. They really wanted this victory. They earned it, they had to earn it.”

Colbi Laturi hit three 3-pointers and Riley Stine hit one in the game. They hit back-to-back triples in the second quarter that gave West Iron a 17-10 lead. The Wykons went on to make it a 21-12 game with two and a half minutes remaining in the first half.

Laturi and Eden Golliher led the Wykons with 13 points each.

“This was also a night where we couldn’t get the inside game going,” Shamion said. “Riley Stine was able to hit a 3 for us. Colbi Laturi hit three of them. We needed the outside game tonight. We’re fortunate that we can rely on some of these players to hit those shots for us.”

The Mountaineers came out of the 26-15 halftime deficit on a mission.

Iron Mountain made it a five-point game just a few minutes into the third quarter and hung on the Wykons’ coattails within three points through the rest of the quarter.

West Iron County’s Aly Pangrazzi put up a shot as time expired in the third quarter and the referees counted the basket after discussing the shot. Instead of it being a one-point game (32-31) going into the fourth, Pangrazzi’s basket gave the Wykons some breathing room.

In the fourth quarter, Iron Mountain’s foul trouble took a toll. Jorden Stoner picked up her third foul with 7:17 left, with Faith Bal already at four. Poupore picked up her third foul a few minutes after.

West Iron fell into foul trouble as well, but were propped up by the bench.

“Aly Pangrazzi comes off the bench for us and helps to plug up the middle,” Shamion said. “She really helped us out tonight. Riley Stine came off the bench and scored eight points and played really well on offense and also played some solid defense.”

The Wykons opened a three-point lead to eight with five minutes left. West Iron was 11 of 13 on free throws in the fourth quarter.

Johnson said Iron Mountain progressed well throughout the season.

“I looked at it like progress from the beginning to the end. The difference was large. At the beginning of the year we struggled working together, running plays,” she said. “They haven’t run anything like that before. That was a big part of it. Throughout the season we wanted to progress and play our best basketball in March. We definitely achieved that goal. That’s what we wanted. It wasn’t in our favor, but West Iron’s a great team, they’re coached great, they’ve got great discipline. They play as a team. I wish them the best. Hopefully they can keep going for a little while. They’re going to be tough for the next couple of years.”

West Iron 11 15 8 22 — 56

Iron Mountain 9 6 16 16 — 47

WEST IRON COUNTY (56): Laturi 13, Golliher 13, Malmquist 10, Stine 10, Nelson 8, Pangrazzi 2. FT: 20-29. F: 17. 3PT: Laturi 3, Stine 1.

IRON MOUNTAIN (47): Poupore 28, Bal 8, Ellis 4, Stoner 3, Hoffman 1, Lundholm 1. FT: 12-19. F: 25 (Poupore, Bal and Swartout fouled out). FG: 15-59. 3PT: 5-19 (Poupore 2, Bal 2, Stoner 1). Rebounds: 34 (Poupore 17). Turnovers: 10.