Prep boys basketball: Negaunee reaches fourth-straight MHSAA Class C state quarterfinal

MARQUETTE – It can now be said it’s a habit.

For the fourth-straight season, the Negaunee High School boys basketball team has advanced to the MHSAA Class C state quarterfinals, this time at 7 p.m. on Tuesday in Petoskey.

The Miners (23-1), who beat Ironwood 70-45 Wednesday in Marquette for the Class C regional title, will face East Jordan (19-4), a 55-53 winner over Beaverton.

“We’ve just had great players who are willing to work and be prepared,” NHS head coach Mike O’Donnell said of his program’s quarterfinal string.

“When you get to this stage, you have to be mentally ready and ready to go.”

The Miners, who never trailed in Wednesday’s contest, got 17 points from Jay Lori and 14 from both Eric Lori and Robert Loy. Tyler Jandron added 11 points, six assists, three rebounds and two blocks.

“We played good defense and got some transition baskets,” said Loy, who posted his career high in points. “We ran the ball well and got some open shots.”

NHS also clamped down on the Red Devils’ Adam Mackey. He scored 32 points – 30 in the first half – against Norway on Monday in a 67-34 regional semifinal win, but Negaunee held him to just 11 points.

“Tyler (Jandron) did an excellent job on Mackey (defensively),” O’Donnell said. “He forced Mackey out of rhythm on his shots.”

Said Ironwood coach Pete Lewinski: “Adam had to work hard on his shots. He was in a zone Monday, but we knew Jandron was going to get him (defensively) and give him some trouble.”

Jacob DiGiorgio paced the Red Devils (20-4) with 18 points. Bryan Rowe joined DiGiorgio and Mackey in double figures with 13.

The Miners got out of the gates early, taking a 10-4 lead on a Jay Lori putback en route to a 17-6 advantage heading into the second quarter.

“We forced some perimeter shots early that weren’t good and pressed a little,” Lewinski said. “Our first three or four shots just weren’t good enough.”

The Miners padded the lead to 32-13 at the half behind five points apiece from Eric Lori – who also came up with six steals and four assists in the game – and Loy.

NHS then blew the game open with a 25-8 third quarter as Jay Lori poured in 11 points and Loy seven.

“The team just found me and gave me good looks (at the basket),” Loy said. “But everyone scored.”

O’Donnell praised his 6-foot-1 junior guard.

“Robert had a career game tonight. He was shooting well from the perimeter,” the coach said. “We told him they were (sagging) off him in favor of Tyler and to be ready to shoot.”

Lewinski said it was tough for his team to apply defensive pressure on the Miners.

“They have so many weapons,” the Red Devils coach said. “They have the best backcourt combination I’ve seen (in Eric Lori and Jandron).

“They can shoot from the perimeter, break down your ‘D’ with penetration and also make their front-court players better.

“They also work so hard defensively. You have to watch your ball handling.

“I wish we could have given (the Miners) a better game,” he added. “But they’re a veteran team that plays with intensity.”

O’Donnell emptied his bench with 3:29 remaining and Negaunee leading 65-31. Ironwood then outscored the Miners’ subs 14-5 the rest of the way.

“It was an overall team game at both ends of the floor,” O’Donnell said. “We got some balanced scoring and some great defense.”