Houghton smacks West Iron County to set up MHSAA regional final against Ishpeming

MARQUETTE – After claiming its 14th straight MHSAA district tournament title last week, the Houghton High School girls basketball team is looking for more.

With Elisa Jurmu and Blaire Zenner leading the way, the Gremlins rolled over West Iron County Tuesday night, 70-40, in Class C regional semifinal play in Marquette.

With Jurmu scoring a game-high 25 points and Zenner adding 14, Houghton improved to 21-2 this season.

The Gremlins will take on Ishpeming (17-6) at 7 p.m. Thursday at Marquette Senior High School for the regional title. The Hematites beat Manistique Tuesday, 50-36.

“They get after it with a pressure defense,” Houghton head coach Julie Filpus said of the Hematites. “We’ll have to work on that in practice (today).”

The Gremlins played solid defense themselves against the Wykons. Spearheaded by defensive specialist Sydney Dillinger, Houghton held WIC (12-11) to just 16 of 50 shooting from the field for 32 percent.

“For us, it all starts with defense,” Filpus said. “We had some intensity and worked hard on the floor.”

Dillinger, a 5-10 sophomore guard, held 5-6 star senior guard Kylee Erickson of WIC to just eight of her 14 game points.

“Sydney has been doing this defensively all year,” Filpus said. “She makes it hard for teams to start their offense.”

Said Wykons head coach Mike Dallavalle: “Dillinger is a great defender. With her length and footwork, she forces Kylee into some long 3-pointers, which Kylee can knock down.

“But Kylee is such a huge part of the execution of our offense. When Dillinger plays defense like that, it makes it hard for us to get anything going.”

Emilie Christensen paced WIC with 16 points and 10 rebounds.

The Gremlins took a 19-7 first quarter lead behind six points by Jurmu.

“They were intense that first quarter,” Dallavalle said of the Gremlins. “And Jurmu was amazing tonight. There wasn’t much she couldn’t do.”

Filpus said the early surge was part of the Gremlins’ game plan.

“At this stage of the season, you have to come out ready to play,” she said. “Thankfully, we got a good cushion early.”

Houghton outscored WIC 6-2 early in the second quarter en route to a 25-9 lead, then used another 6-2 surge early in the third before taking a 52-29 advantage into the fourth quarter.

Zenner scored eight and Jurmu seven of the Gremlins’ 20 points in the third stanza.

“When you see us put 70 (total) points on the board, there will be some big, smiley faces for us,” Filpus said.

Dallavalle said he liked the fact his team “didn’t give up,” but was disappointed in his team’s play overall.

“I don’t feel we executed any part of our game plan,” he said. “We didn’t slow the game down and we didn’t work the ball offensively.

“(Houghton) also killed us on the boards tonight.”

The Gremlins outrebounded the Wykons, 37-25.

Craig Remsburg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 251.