Prep boys basketball: Negaunee gets action-packed 52-43 M-PC win over Ishpeming

ISHPEMING – Basketball fans generally aren’t satisfied unless they see plenty of scoring. Who wants to watch a team dribble and pass and dribble and pass over and over again?

But big point production isn’t necessary to generate excitement in a Negaunee vs. Ishpeming boys matchup.

Bodies were flying left and right, up in the air and out of bounds even for stretches when points weren’t being scored.

In the end, the tandem of senior guards Tyler Jandron and Eric Lori proved too much for the home Hematites as Negaunee prevailed, 52-43 in Mid-Peninsula Conference play at IHS.

Jandron scored 23 points and Lori added 20 to counter Ishpeming’s two big scoring seniors, Alex Briones, who had 18 points, and Bobby Zhulkie, with 11.

Jandron had a memorable moment just before halftime that reminded everybody why he was a Class C first-team all-state selection last season.

With time running down, a teammate missed a shot and Ishpeming didn’t secure the long rebound.

The lanky 6-foot-1 senior pounced on the ball near the sideline with about three seconds left, immediately spinning and rushing a 25-foot shot that hit all net as the buzzer sounded to give the Miners a 29-23 lead at intermission.

The win put the first nail in the coffin for the Miners, who are inching closer to securing the M-PC title. They are 13-1 overall, 8-0 in the league with four games remaining. The Hematites still hold onto second place at 10-3 overall and 5-2 in the M-PC, both losses coming to Negaunee.

Friday’s game went back and forth, with Ishpeming leading after one quarter, Negaunee after two and the teams just one point apart through three.

“At halftime, we knew we couldn’t let up, but we did just a little bit,” Lori said as his team opened up its biggest lead, 34-26, in the third quarter before the Hematites closed the gap.

“Our kids played hard, but Jandron and Lori can just kill you. They’re probably the best guard tandem in the U.P.,” Ishpeming coach Jeff Olson said. “They made shot after shot, and we just couldn’t hit ours.

“We played good defense, and it was a close game the whole way through even though we had problems with our shooting.”

The Hematites made just 13 of 62 from the field (21 percent) while Negaunee was twice as good at 42.6 percent (20 of 47).

“There were a lot of bodies flying all over the place,” NHS coach Mike O’Donnell said. “You could see there were a lot of tired players on both sides in the fourth quarter. But I can’t remember one of our games not being like that.

“This was a tournament-type atmosphere. It’s the kind of game we need. We’ll learn a lot about dealing with this kind of physical play and a pressure situation.”

In two of the quarters, the second and fourth, neither team scored for nearly two minutes at the start. But it wasn’t for lack of effort.

In the second period, Ishpeming had an early sequence with a missed layup, an offensive rebound, a miss on the putback, another offensive rebound and yet another missed putback under the basket. Before the two minutes were up, each team made a turnover due to heavy defensive pressure, with Negaunee converting a Robert Loy swipe with a Lori layup at the other end.

The fourth was similar at the start, when there was a team offensive rebound knocked out of bounds, a blocked shot, and a steal by Lori out of Zhulkie’s hand. But Lori’s shot at the other end rimmed out of the bucket and four fouls were called on Ishpeming, two on senior Tyrus Millimaki in the space of five seconds that had Hematites’ fans hooting and hollering.

Each of the big four scorers had their share of 3-point tries and slicing moves to the basket. But Negaunee proved superior on long-range shots, Jandron sinking three, Lori two and Loy one.

Top rebounders were Negaunee senior Zane Radloff with 11 and Ishpeming sophomore Ozzy Corp with eight.

Ishpeming won the JV game 40-37 when the Hematites’ Nick Comment hit a 23-foot 3-pointer at the final buzzer.