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Slowing it down

April 15, 2020 by Brett LaBore

The Mercer boys’ basketball team played their Indianhead and regular season finale at home against Ironwood on Thursday night. It was Senior Night.

“These boys are one of the most respectful group of guys that I’ve had,” explained coach Adam Miller. “All four are such great kids and so respectful.”

Ironwood won 45-26.


The Tigers used this as a warm-up and tune-up game to Hurley in the first game of regional play tonight. They practiced some of the things they will use against them.

“It’s a tune-up game, we still wanna win, but we’re going to try some different things that we are going to play against Hurley,” Miller said.

It was a low-scoring game as the Tigers burned clock to limit possessions for Ironwood.

“Watching film on Hurley games played against Butternut - it’s tough to matchup to Hurley so we have to slow the game down,” Miller said. “We have to get a wide open shot and we cannot turn the ball over.”

Low score

Ironwood took a 2-0 lead and it remained that way for awhile. The first good look for the Tigers came from Davin Peterson when he had a couple of short shots under the basket. None of them went in.

The Tigers took their first timeout as Ironwood led 2-0 five minutes into the game. 

Still no baskets scored, Kobe Hiller tied the game at 2-2 when he made two free throws. Hiller came back the next possession and missed an acrobatic shot.

Defensively, the Tigers kept Ironwood out of sync, forcing them into bad shots and some sloppy turnovers. 

Finally, the Tigers scored their first basket courtesy of Jacob Schmidt, right under the hoop for a wide open basket. Baylie Huybrecht got the assist after stealing the ball.

The Tigers led 4-2 midway through the first half. A total of two baskets had been scored.

Ironwood very quickly tied the game at 4-4. It was their first basket in several trips down the floor. 

Immediately after Ironwood tied the game, the Tigers went down the floor and turned the ball over. Points were hard to come by.

Jordan Alhborn hit a floater a couple minutes later to tie the game at 6-6. Then, Ironwood answered with the game’s first 3-pointer. 

“We were right there but we made some costly turnovers and they hit a three in the first half which spread it out to be down by nine or ten in the first half but we were right there,” Miller said.

In such a low scoring

game, back-to-back baskets would be a key. Ironwood scored a basket right after they hit their 3-pointer. In fact, they ended the half on a 9-0 run. 

The Tigers had a chance to get a shot off before halftime, but could not. Ironwood led 15-6 at the break.

Ironwood came out scoring quickly and led 20-7 in the game’s first couple of minutes. Both Ryan Losh and Jacob Schmidt split a pair of free throws early in the half.

Keeping it close

Then, Hiller got two points on the fast break as did Baylie Huybrecht when Schmidt fought and got the offensive board for the assist.

“Baylie is a great captain, a great leader. He’s gonna do well in life,” Miller said.

These Tigers weren’t going down that easy.

With 14:04 left, Ironwood led 20-12.

Hiller got two more points attacking the rim and Schmidt followed that up with two points down low on a Baylie Huybrecht assist.

“I thought when we sped up the game we did play with them,” Miller said.

Now Ironwood took a timeout up 23-16 with 9:50 to go. The Tigers were on a 9-3 run.

Big time shot

Shortly after the timeout, Ironwood took some free throw attempts. After missing the second free throw attempt, Ironwood got the offensive rebound and Sawyer Stengard sunk a huge 3-pointer. Then Stengard came back to make another 3-pointer.

“The ball hit the rim and bounced out pretty far, but we didn’t box out well,” Miller said. “That’s a killer and it’s a six point swing.”

All of a sudden Ironwood led 30-16 thanks to a 7-0 run.

Peterson came back to score a bucket on his way to the rim. Hiller also had a jumper and Baylie Huybrecht did a little hop-step to get two points in the paint. 

“I’m going to miss (Davin) and his family,” Miller said. “Joe (is) not tall and doesn’t have the best shot, but man he can play defense against guys eight inches tall,” said Miller in regards to the other senior Joe Laudolff.

Ironwood still led 35-22 with 4:06 to go.

The Batman

With time winding down, Ironwood all but sealed it with a couple of open layups. Hiller scored a 3-pointer off the dribble and a free throw to end Senior Night. He led the team with 12 points and made 3/4 free throws.

“Kobe’s been a Robin to a Batman,” Miller said. “Now he’s finally the Batman and it’s just a shame that Kobe didn’t really have another guy, like Kobe was the guy for so many years.”

Up next

Since Hurley is the three seed, it will be a tall task tonight to start regionals.

“They beat us by 40 last time. We cannot matchup against them. It’s impossible,” Miller said. “We do not have five guys that can cover their five guys. We have to limit possessions, we have to play great defense, we have to, when the shot goes up, we have to rebound and limit them to one shot.”

The Tigers play in the first round of regionals tonight at Hurley in the 3/14 matchup. The tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Brett LaBore may be reached at [email protected] or [email protected]

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