IRON RIVER—Coming off a brief (eight-day) holiday break, West Iron’s boys team did just enough to defeat North Dickinson 51-49 here on Jan. 3.
Tyler Stafford got the winning basket with 12 seconds to play, and the Nordics’ last-ditch three-point try went off the rim.
The Wykons enter this week 4-1 overall and 1-0 in the West Pac Conference. An important stretch of West Pac games starts Jan. 10 when the Wykons visit Calumet, the second of five straight on the road.
Eight for eight: The team’s final home game until Jan. 22 didn’t start very well. They turned over the ball eight times in the first eight minutes, as the Nordics broke out to a 9-4 lead.
Before the game, Schive had talked to his team about taking care of the ball and getting good shots early. Instead, five of the first six possessions ended in turnovers. “We threw the ball all over the gym,” the coach said. Making matters worse, they were forcing shots.
Cody Berg, who led the Nordics with five points in the first quarter, added eight more in the second, including a pair of threes. But the Wykons matched them, thanks in part to Joe Pisoni, who scored seven in the second quarter of his season debut.
“He was a little nervous early,” Schive said. “Once he got comfortable, he was OK. He’s going to help us—a good-sized kid, and he’s pretty athletic.”
Fighting back: ND led by 10 late in the second quarter before the Wykons scored the last five points, cutting the gap to 26-21 halftime. WIC added the first five of the second half, tying it at 26-all.
A defensive switch at halftime helped turn the game around. Schive put Adam Newby on Berg, who had 13 in the first half. Newby held Berg to six in the second half, while scoring 11 himself, as the Wykons cut ND’s lead to one, 37-36, after three.
The game went back and forth in the fourth quarter, with the Wykons chipping away. Schive said Stafford’s aggressive rebounding gave West Iron a jolt of energy. When Stafford left the floor took a rest, WIC played more passively. “We need his enthusiasm to roll over to a couple of the other ones.
“They all play hard,” he added quickly. “They just don’t know that they can play harder and still not get in foul trouble.”
Last call: Another key was the Wykons taking better control of the ball in the second half. Austin Waara led the fourth quarter offense with seven points. Meanwhile, Berg picked up his fourth foul and had to sit out for a while.
Down the stretch, ND tied it with a basket on an inbounds play with time running down. Coming back, Alex Ralston passed to Stafford, whose six-foot shot to put West Iron in front with 12 seconds left.
The Nordics called time and tried to win it with three, but the shot went off the rim. “At the end, we got a bucket, and they didn’t.”
Waara led WIC’s scoring with 15 points, Newby added 13, Pisoni had nine and Stafford added eight.
The Wykons were missing Andy Ridolphi, who turned an ankle during the Escanaba game Dec. 27. Schive hopes he can return to action late this week.
After playing single games in the first five weeks of the season, the schedule is about to get intense. “We’ve got five games in the next 16 days,” Schive said.
Numbers: WIC team: 10-16 FTs, 1x3, 18 fouls, 23 rebs, 22 turnovers. ND team: 11-15 FTs, 4x3, 19 fouls.
WIC stats: Austin Waara, 15 pts, 3 stls; Adam Newby, 13 pts; Joe Pisoni, 9 pts; Tyler Stafford, 8 pts, 13 rebs, 5 stls, 2 blks. ND stats: Cody Berg, 19 pts, 4x3; M. Schultz, 8 pts; T. Hruska, 8 pts; L. O’Neil, 6 pts.
Nordics 9 17 11 12 -- 49
Wykons 4 17 15 15 -- 51
Coming up: After visiting Florence Jan. 7, the Wykons play half their West Pac schedule in the next five games: at Calumet on Jan. 10; at Houghton, Jan. 14; at L’Anse, Jan. 18; and home vs. Hancock on Jan. 22. “We’ve got to win two games on the road and stay clean at home, and we’ll be OK.”
In between, they visit Forest Park on Jan. 17.