Prep boys basketball: Ishpeming plays shutdown defense to beat Kingsford

KINGSFORD – Joe Hofer posted an 11-point fourth quarter, but it was too little, too late for the Kingsford Flivvers in a 59-39 nonconference loss at home to Ishpeming on Friday night.

Hofer connected on two 3-pointers and five free throws in the final period, but Kingsford’s inability to produce earlier allowed Ishpeming to build a lead that was never threatened.

“We hung around for a little bit, tried a different starting lineup,” said Flivvers coach Dan Olkkonen, his team slipping to 1-9. “We’re trying everything. It’s not for a lack of effort, we’re just looking for that one thing that pulls us together.”

Ishpeming (7-2) and Kingsford traded buckets early, but a 10-3 run to close the first quarter put the Hematites in control. Ishpeming did not allow a Flivver field goal in the second quarter.

“I thought our defensive intensity was real good,” Ishpeming head coach Jeff Olson said. “I was worried because this was our third game of the week. I’m glad we came out with that intensity.”

Alex Briones, Bobby Zhulkie and Derek DeCaire each tallied 10 points to lead Hematites scorers. Ishpeming’s 15-point halftime advantage quickly ballooned to 25 points thanks to a 10-0 start in the second half.

Briones sunk consecutive 3-pointers to kick-start the run, and nearly four minutes of third quarter elapsed before Kingsford found an answer with its first field goal since the first quarter, a jumper by Dan Harrington.

“They have some talented and strong players,” Olkkonen said about Ishpeming. “We had a lot of good shot opportunities, but then we’d go on stretches where we didn’t get any shots.”

Hofer and Joe Gregory, who scored 11 points in a starting role, led the Flivvers offense.

Ishpeming, which shot 57 percent from the field, led by 24 at the start of the final quarter, when Olson went to his bench.

Kingsford won the JV game, 46-42, while Ishpeming prevailed in the freshmen contest, 51-40.