Calumet ensured that its 2014-15 girls’ basketball season got off to a successful start Tuesday in a 68-44 overwhelming of Escanaba. Seven Copper Kings scored at least six points and several key players took shifts as the starof the offense, far too many for the Eskymos to keep up with.
“I was hoping that they would be sitting in the zone they’ve been sitting for a couple of years, so we really focused on trying to spread that out, getting that to shift and moving the ball around, and the kids did that. It kind of exposed them so they got those open looks,” Calumet coach Jeff Twardzik said.
The looks were there for Calumet from the get-go, but the shots weren’t falling, as evidenced by one possession of roughly two-minutes’ length featuring a series of Calumet offensive rebounds but no points. Escanaba finally got possession, then immediately threw it over the top for a Callie Heller bucket before the Kings worked it around again for nearly a minute before Lexie Rowe finally connected on a three. Once the Kings got sighted in, they proved deadly, scoring 28 points in the second quarter to turn the game from a tie after one quarter to a rout after two.
“After the second quarter, something just happened, and one thing trickled to another and then people start feeling bad for themselves and that’s not the way it should be. They should try to just work harder and be more aggressive and try to take care of the ball,” Esky coach Dena Fedell said.
Rowe scored five points in quick succession to break a 13-all tie for good, then in the last four minutes of the quarter, the inside-outside combo of junior guard Clara Loukus and senior forward Ellen Twardzik went to work in an 11-0 run that expanded the Calumet lead to 15. Twardzik had eight of her 12 points in the last four minutes of the first half, demonstrating an ability to overpower her defender on the block. At other points, the longer, thinner Janie Torola or left-handed Loretta Halonen carried the load inside. On the outside, Loukus demanded defensive attention, and though the presence of Michigan Tech signee Michelle LaFave dramatically limited Calumet’s ability to attack the rim, Rowe still got 11 points and the Kings got contributions from Tristan Baranowski and varsity newcomer Leah Kiilunen, who had seven points in her first appearance. On the other end, where Calumet had many offensive options, Escanaba mostly displayed one: LaFave. From the beginning of the second quarter to late in the third, she had 10 of the Eskymos’ 14 points, and most of them were either on the run or at the free-throw line, where she was 7-for-12.
“They set up on a press and we have really good ballhandlers, but today I think their nerves really got the best of them,” Fedell said.
Calumet plays at Dollar Bay Friday. After his first win as a varsity coach, coach Twardzik can be encouraged that if his team attacks like it did Tuesday, there will be many more to come.
“It’s my first rodeo here too, and they’re getting used to me and I’m getting used to them and I couldn’t be more happy with what they’ve done,” he said.