Negaunee girls suffer first M-PC basketball loss

NORWAY – Norway decided to shake up the Mid-Peninsula Conference girls basketball standings in Norway Friday night.

Outscoring Negaunee 28-9 in the second half, including holding the Miners to two points in the fourth quarter, the Lady Knights scratched out a 44-30 victory.

It was the Miners’ (11-3, 7-1 M-PC) first loss in league play this season.

“It’s a big win,” Norway coach Carli Kelly said. “I’ve been hard on the girls this week. We’ve been trying new things, and I think tonight, they answered to it.”

Bailey Grayvold led Norway with 13 points and 10 rebounds, even after sitting a good chunk of the third quarter due to foul trouble.

Rachel Conery added nine points, eight coming in the fourth quarter as the Knights were left to hold off Negaunee without Grayvold for the final few minutes after the senior guard fouled out.

Leah Mattson knocked down seven points and was an even bigger contributor on the boards, where she speared 10 rebounds.

“I’ve been waiting all year for that,” Kelly said of Mattson’s aggressive effort.

Negaunee, led by Taylor WIlbur’s 11 points and Rosalie Anderson’s nine, maintained a lead most of the first half, despite struggling offensively and playing a bit sloppy with the basketball.

Norway’s man defense succeeded in further frustrating the Miners’ effort. Negaunee wound up with 23 turnovers to Norway’s 10.

“They have very quick guards,” Kelly said. “I thought about going to zone, but the last time we did that, they shot the lights out. And I think we’ve been getting better with man.”

Negaunee couldn’t miss against Norway’s zone defense in the teams’ first meeting, coasting to a 62-41 win back in December. It was quite the opposite Friday night.

“We didn’t shoot the ball very well,” Negaunee coach Brandon Sager said. “Norway played pretty good defense, so give them credit.”

Not helping the Negaunee cause was foul trouble of their own, with senior point Ashley Veale having to miss major minutes in the second half and eventually fouling out with about a minute left to play.

“Our point guard didn’t play the whole third quarter,” Sager said. “She runs the show for us.”

Negaunee led 21-16 at halftime and carried a three-point edge into the final frame.

A jumper by Grayvold brought the Knights (8-6, 5-3) within one at 30-29, and an inside bucket by Heather Evosevich put Norway ahead with 6:05 to play.

Conery stepped in front of a Negaunee pass on the next trip down, and Grayvold finished for two. Conery then added a couple of more unanswered baskets, and with 3:13 to go, the Knights were suddenly up seven.

Conery helped seal the win down the stretch with 5-of-6 shooting at the foul line.

Negaunee got a lay-up from Wilber early in the fourth and nothing the rest of the way.

“I think Norway just outplayed us, bottom line,” Sager said.