Miners crack Ishpeming zone defense for M-PC boys basketball victory

ISHPEMING – It took the Negaunee High School boys basketball team a full quarter to figure out Ishpeming’s 1-2-2 zone defense Friday night.

But when the Miners did, there was no stopping their offense.

Tanner Uren and Tyler Jandron tossed in 17 points apiece as the state Class C No. 7-ranked Miners rolled over the host Hematites, 64-44, in a Mid-Peninsula Conference contest.

“It took us a while to crack that zone,” said Uren, who also hauled in a game-high 11 rebounds. “But when we did, we had good ball movement.

“We picked up our defense in the third quarter, too.”

Eric Lori added 11 points, while Jandron came up with seven assists and five steals for the Miners, now 14-11 overall and 9-0 in league play.

“For the most part, we moved the ball well all night,” NHS coach Mike O’Donnell. “But in the first half, we had to figure out their zone. We eventually did and then made some good decisions.”

The Hematites (5-7, 3-5) frustrated the Miners into some long shot attempts in the opening quarter and trailed just 13-12.

“We didn’t want to let (the Miners) get into their transition game,” Ishpeming coach John Tiziani said of his decision to go with the zone defense. “I was happy with the first quarter, but we missed some layups driving the lane.

“I told the kids you can’t do that against Negaunee. You almost have to play a perfect game to beat them.”

Up 27-21 at the half, the Miners outscored the Hematites 16-6 in the third quarter behind five points by Andrew Katona, and four each from Jandron and Lori.

Our offense just didn’t match theirs,” Tiziani lamented. “That was the key. You can’t come out and get just six points in the third quarter.”

The Miners increased their 43-27 lead at the end of the third quarter to 61-36 with 2:27 left when O’Donnell emptied his bench.

The Miners controlled the boards, outrebounding the Hematites 40-32.

“That was huge,” O’Donnell said. “We anticipated Ishpeming using a zone, so we sent four guys hard to the boards.

“I was real happy with our defense, too. Ishpeming was beating us to the rim early, but we adjusted. We made them work.””

Bobby Zhulkie fired in 18 points for Ishpeming.

Teammate Alex Briones, an All-Upper Peninsula Class ABC Second Team pick last season who averaged 19.4 points a game, saw his first action this season Friday night after recovering from a severe right ankle injury he suffered playing football.

He scored 10 points.

“It was nice to have another scorer on the floor,” Tiziani said. “I’m surprised he played as many minutes as he did.”

Briones said it “felt good” to return to action.

“It was the first time I’ve sprinted in about two months,” he added. “I’m out of shape and my legs weren’t with it. I’m a work in progress now.”

Craig Remsburg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 251. His email address is cremsburg@miningjournal.net.