Flivvers whisk Wykons at the buzzer

(Matt McCarthy Daily News photo) Kingsford senior Andrew Paupore (23) dribbles around West Iron senior Justin Nelson (12), Tuesday night in a non-conference game won by Kingsford, 59-56.

KINGSFORD — Senior Andrew Paupore drained a 3-point shot at the buzzer as Kingsford eked past non-conference foe West Iron 59-56 Tuesday night at the Kingsford Middle School gym. Paupore led the Flivvers with 17 points, with 15 being from behind the arc.

“It’s funny you go through 31:54 of not knowing if I called the right plays, but it came down to the last play and the kids ran it right,” Flivvers head coach Dan Olkkonen said. “Due to our wide body Zach Person setting a pick, Andrew couldn’t have been more wide open and he drained the shot.”

The back and forth game went right down to the wire. With exactly 1:00 remaining, Olkkonen called a timeout with a 56-53 lead. But it was the last seconds of the game that determined the outcome.

“For me to sit here and tell you that I am disappointed in the kids tonight would be untrue,” said West Iron head coach Dan Schive. “Their effort was great and we fought back from nine points down, twice. We could have folded up and said we’re tired. The boys didn’t do that.”

With the score tied 56-56, the Flivvers gained possession with 5.7 seconds remaining.

“If we had been patient for one more second on our last possession, we would’ve gotten the ball into Justin (Nelson) and he’d have had a shot to win the game for us,” Schive said.

Olkkonen called two separate timeouts, as a strategy to be able to inbound the ball at half court, instead of next to the WIC bench.

Off of Person’s screen for Paupore in the corner in front of the Kingsford bench, Paupore fired a shot that swished through as the buzzer sounded. The Flivvers bench and the small crowd in attendance erupted.

“I wouldn’t have gotten as wide open as I did without Zach (Person) setting the pick he did,” Paupore said. “I had to make the shot, but he was just as important in us winning too.”

Kingsford used a full-court press that led to points off of turnovers on a couple of occasions.

“We have really been working on our press, but it’s been hard to fully see how it was going to work, because we haven’t been able to practice with contact until late last week,” Olkkonen said. “We got tired in the fourth quarter and they broke the press on us a little bit. But it’s going to be part of our game plan this season.”

The Flivvers mostly young and energetic team was pushing the tempo of their offense in the first half. The Wykons were mainly were working the ball inside to senior Nelson, an All-U.P. selection last season. He led all scorers with 22 points.

Cole Brackett for the Flivvers and Nathan Thomson for WIC each chipped in 11 points.

The Wykons, who trailed by nine at the intermission, came out of the locker room with energy. They went on a 8-1 run the first four minutes of the third stanza.

With 2:01 remaining in the game, West Iron was assessed a technical foul with the Flivvers ahead 54-50. Paupore missed both charity tosses, but was able to redeem himself in the end.

“Tonight was a tough, competitive game. I am glad we came out on top in our first game of the season. Nelson, you can tell this is his fourth year on the varsity. He’s a great player,” Olkkonen said.

“We gotta clean up our turnovers, but if we fight and claw like we did tonight, we’ll win some more basketball games this season,” Schive said.

The Flivvers (1-0, 0-0 GNC) remain home as they will entertain Great Northern Conference opponent Gladstone on Thursday. West Iron (1-1, 1-0 West PAC) returns home to host West PAC foe Calumet on Friday.

Kingsford, who won the JV contest, also won the freshmen contest. The Flivver frosh defeated Negaunee 74-49. Eli Wallis led Kingsford with a game-high 28 points, while teammate Cardell Morton added 10 points.

West Iron 10 11 17 18 — 56

Kingsford 15 14 10 20 — 59

WIC: Thomson 11, Anderson 9, Nelson 22, Wickstrom 2, Larson 2, Lundin 2, Ballinger 8; FT: 7-12; F: 15; Technical: Anderson; Fouled Out: Lundin; 3-point FG: Ballinger 2, Anderson.

KINGSFORD: Nora 4, Meneguzzo 3, Carollo 2, Kopp 9, Weber 8, Brackett 11, Paupore 17, Bilgreen 5; FT: 7-12; F: 18; Fouled Out: None; 3-point FG: Meneguzzo, Paupore 5.


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