Playing their second game in less than two weeks, the Calumet Copper Kings earned a big non-conference win over the Baraga Vikings on their home court, 61-36. Jack Hyrkas scored just 10 points in the previous matchup. He scored nearly that many points in the third quarter alone en route to a 21-point night, which led all scorers.
“Jack Hyrkas got hot in that third and fourth quarter,” said Copper Kings coach Mike Ojala. ‘He really did a nice job for us softening up their zone.’
The first quarter saw Calumet take an early lead 14-10 with six different scorers getting involved. The Vikings’ zone defense kept the Copper Kings at bay for much of the quarter. That zone continued to prove tough into the second quarter, so the Copper Kings switched strategies, slowing down their offense and drawing out offensive possessions. A 10-0 run to gain a 27-11 advantage over an almost four-minute span was a direct result of that change. Another problem the Vikings ran into as the Copper Kings continued to draw out their offensive possessions was the fact that they struggled to get the ball back after missed shots as Calumet outrebounded the visitors 28-15. The Vikings managed to collect themselves late in the quarter and by the half had pulled back within 11, 27-16. A key trey from Brendan Varline kept the Vikings’ hopes alive, provided they have a good third quarter. He finished with a team-high 18 points.
“I thought our defense played good,” said Vikings coach Daryl Putala. “They made some shots when they had to It came down to the boards again. We didn’t rebound.”
Calumet jumped back out to a 14-point lead on Hyrkas’ second three-pointer of the night. The Copper Kings would extend that lead to 15, 32-18, by the halfway point of the quarter when the wheels threatened to fall off as the physicality of the game increased. Peter Anderson took two fouls, his third and fourth of the game, in about a 40 second span sandwiching Hyrkas’ third and the Vikings cut the lead down to 10.
“Typically, we have a letdown in the third quarter,” said Putala. “That might have been our best quarter of the night. We pressured them. Our ball pressure was good with our guards. That was how we beat them the first time.”
That was as close as the Vikings would get, however, as the Copper Kings closed the quarter in style, getting a huge trey from Nathan Pieti. As they fell further behind, the Vikings started expanding their zone, which allowed Calumet to start getting the ball inside. They continued to do just that in the fourth quarter. After Hyrkas hit his third three-pointer of the night, the Vikings lost Austin Smith on one of the ensuing possessions. No foul was called on the play, angering the remaining Vikings players, who made further mistakes including taking a technical foul. Calumet scored 21 points in all in that final quarter to put the game out of reach.
Baraga 10 6 9 11 – 36
Calumet 14 13 13 21 – 61
Baraga – Brendan Varline 18, Austin Smith 8, Chaz Foria 5, Jonah Goodreau 2, Lucas Coffey 2, Josh Sutherland 1; Free Throws: 19-30; Fouls: 14; Fouled out: Goodreau; 3-point field goals: Varline 1.
Calumet – Jack Hyrkas 21, Peter Anderson 10, Wyatt Loukus 10, Russ Bjorn 8, Sam Kariniemi 7, Nathan Pieti 2, Owen Sturos 2, Jordan Johnson 1; Free Throws: 11-23; Fouls: 18; Fouled out: Anderson; 3-point field goals: Hyrkas 5, Loukus 3, Anderson 2.
“Tonight I really thought we went four quarters and played tough, hard-nosed defense,” said Ojala. ‘It was a physical game and our kids, I thought, kept their composure and played tough.’