IRONWOOD - The Ironwood Red Devils put high school basketball teams on notice that they will be a force to be reckoned with this season with a 75-46 thumping of Wakefield-Marenisco in the season opener for both teams on Monday night. It was also an Indianhead Conference game for both schools.
'Ironwood is really a good team," Cardinal coach Terry Fetters said. "I said before I think they're the team to beat in the Indianhead Conference. They have height, depth, and move the ball well on offense. They don't have a lot of weaknesses. If you look at the stat sheet, I bet they out-rebounded us three-to-one, but we didn't block out."
Ironwood has eight players at six feet or bigger and it paid off. Ironwood out-rebounded W-M 34-25, but the margin did seem larger and the Red Devils rejected seven shots to W-M's one.
Any time you score 75 points, you have to be happy with your offense and Ironwood coach Pete Lewinski was.
"Our offense is very balanced," Lewinski said. "We are more than Adam (Mackey) although he can play anywhere. Jared Sobolewski played extremely well off the bench and Jacob DiGiorgio was a tough inside scorer tonight. Denver Sharrow had some good drives."
There were no first game jitters for Ironwood's offense as they came out firing on all cylinders. Adam Mackey scored underneath early in the game and then Jake DiGiorgio made a steal and scored off a lay-in. Point guard Jon Erickson dished off to Mackey for a score at the 6:42 mark and then Bryant Rowe buried a triple, putting Ironwood up 9-0.
DiGiorgio's free throw gave Ironwood a double-digit lead, but after a Cardinal top-of-the-key 3, Tyler Cole beat Ironwood's defense back and scored on a lay-up and a free throw to narrow Ironwood's advantage to 10-6 with five minutes left.
"I was impressed with Wakefield-Marenisco's shooting," Lewinski said. "We got off to a good start at 10-0, but the Cardinals didn't quit and then it was 10-6."
But by the end of the quarter, Ironwood pushed its lead to 22-15.
W-M's best weapon in the first half was the 3-point shot, while Ironwood distributed the ball well, made crisp passes and were equal opportunity scorers.
Trent Cole had the hot hand in the first half, making four triples and scoring 20 of the Çardinals' 27-points.
For Ironwood, DiGiorgio had 12-points at he half followed by Mackey with nine and Sobolewski with six.
Fetter has stressed playing defense since he became the head coach last season, but at times the Cardinals lose their intensity, focus and aggressiveness.
"We had some guys slowed by injuries and you could see it in their reactions out there," Fetters said. "But defense was a problem. We would do some good things out there or sometimes not so good, like when we gave Ironwood 6-8 drives in a row to the basket."
Bryant Rowe had a drive all the way from the top of the key and then drove and put up a nice floater for two points. Sharrow also had two good drives to the hoop.
Mackey's turn-around jumper with 36.3 seconds left in the quarter seemed to seal the deal and gave the Red Devils its largest lead at 60-36.
Lewinski said there were times when Ironwood's defense broke down, but the good out-weighed the bad.
"(Jon) Erickson and (Colin) Clausen shut down Gagnon and he's a good shooter and athlete," Lewinski said.
Tyler Cole was the game's top gun with 24-points and Kevin Lane added 12, even though he was slowed by an injured back.
The Devils' balanced attack had Mackey with 17 points, DiGiorgio scoring 13 and Rowe notched 11. Two more players, Sharrow and Sobolewski, were close to double-figures with eight points.
The Cardinals (0-1, 0-1 IC) will host Bessemer on Thursday at 7 p.m.in another Indianhead Conference battle.
The Red Devils (1-0, 1-0 IC) will travel to Butternut today for another conference game with a 7:15 p.m. tipoff.
Ironwood won the junior varsity game 32-30.
W-M - Kevin Lane 12, Collin Gagnon 5, Tyler Cole 24, Shane Cole 5. FTs: 2-7; Fouls:11; Fouled out: none; 3-pointers: Tyler Cole 4, Lane 2, Shane Cole 1, Gagnon 1.
Ironwood - Denver Sharrow 8, Adam Mackey 17, Colin Clausen 8, Bryant Rowe 11, Jake DiGiorgio 13, Jonathan Erickson 6, Jared Sobolewski 8, Taylor Killam 2, James Giannunzio 2. FTs:5-7, Fouls:12, Fouled out:none; 3-pointers:Clausen 2, Rowe 1, Mackey 1.
W-M 15 27 36 46
Ironwood 22 42 60 75