Ishpeming duo sinks West Iron

Class C regional semi

West Iron County’s Eden Golliher makes a move on Ishpeming while Coach Eric Shamion and Wykon teammates look on during the Class C regional Tuesday in Escanaba. (Mike Mattson/The Daily Press Photo)

ESCANABA — Pruett and Johns is not a new attorneys office in Ishpeming.

No, it’s the Hematites’ Madison Pruett and Madigan Johns — a key duo who sparked Ishpeming to a thrilling 59-55 victory Tuesday against West Iron County in the girls Class C regional semifinal at Escanaba High School.

Pruett came off the bench to score 12 points on four 3-pointers and Johns finished with a game-high 19 points — the final seven Ishpeming points in the last 2:22 to seal the victory.

The win advances Ishpeming (20-3) to Thursday’s regional title game against St. Ignace, which routed Houghton 68-34 in Tuesday’s second semifinal.

“St. Ignace is talented,” Ishpeming coach Ryan Reichel said about the U.P.’s top-ranked Saints. “I’ve been watching film on them a little bit. It’s going to be a good game. We have the same size they do across the board. They have the defensive pressure up the court and we have a little more inside the paint.”

In the semifinal, it was Pruett early and Johns late.

The Wykons raced to a 9-0 lead before the fans could get settled. Ishpeming coach Ryan Reichel promptly called on Pruett, who hit two 3-pointers as Ishpeming rallied to tie the game at 11-11 after one quarter.

Pruett hit her third 3-pointer in the second quarter as Ishpeming took control and gained a 26-23 halftime lead.

The Wykons (18-5), however, wouldn’t go away and battled back to tie the game at 42-42 after three quarters.

Ishpeming led 52-51 when Johns drove to the basket and was fouled, completing a three-point play for a 55-51 lead at the 2:22 mark.

West Iron’s Anna Malmquist answered with a pair of free throws to cut the lead to 55-53 at the 1:59 mark.

Ishpeming took the air out of the ball and forced West Iron County to foul the rest of the way.

Enter Johns, who swished four free throws in the last 10 seconds. A Wykons’ turnover with 1.7 seconds led to Johns’ last two free throws and the final 59-55 count.

Johns, who is the Player of the Year in the Mid-Peninsula Conference, shoots 87 percent from the line and the Hematites shoot 78 percent as a team from the stripe.

“We knew if it became fouls down the stretch we were gong to be able to capitalize on it and do some good things with the ball,” Reichel said.

“The first half, all I can say is Pruett, sixth man of the year type girl. She came in and hit some big shots for us and got us back in the ballgame. And then we put the ball in our senior’s hands and made free throws down the stretch.”

Mariah Austin also had a big night for Ishpeming with 13 points, including seven in the third quarter.

It was a tough loss for the young Wykons, who start three sophomores and two juniors.

Sophomore 6-footer Eden Golliher scored 15 points before fouling out in the final minute. Emily Nelson, a 6-1 classmate, followed with 14 points and Colbi Laturi added eight points.

“To start out 9-0 our girls were focused for this game,” Wykons’ coach Eric Shamion said. “I really thought we came out on fire. But Pruett got them back in it and it was a dogfight for four quarters. Madigan Johns is a real tough player and we knew that going in.

“Hats off to Ishpeming. It was a heavyweight battle back and forth. They threw punches. We threw punches. Neither team was ready to back down. I thought Pruett, who came off the bench and scored four 3s, really killed us. We didn’t account for that. That was the ballgame.”

Shamion also credited his seniors — Grace Gasperini, Erin Possanza, Natalie Tomasoski and Aly Pangrazzi — for their dedication and leadership this season.

“It hurts in the locker room,” Shamion said. “There were quite a few tears. I couldn’t be more proud of the effort they gave. Sometimes you come up short and tonight we did.”

Ishpeming 11 15 16 17 — 59

West Iron County 11 12 19 13 — 55

Ishpeming — Koski 13, Poirier 2, Johns 19, Pruett 12, Hooper 9, Bertucci 4. FT: 12-14; F: 11; Fouled out: none; 3-point field goals: Austin, Pruett 4, Hooper 2.

West Iron County — Malmquist 7, Nelson 14, Laturi 8, Golliher 15, Serbentas 5, Stine 6. FT: 8-10; F: 14; Fouled out: Golliher; 3-point field goals: Laturi 2, Serbentas