HURLEY - Girls basketball in this area had been wildly unpredictable in the early stages of the season, and when Hurley lost two of its four games, there was talk that perhaps the Midgettes' reign of championship basketball was in jeopardy.
But Hurley proved on Friday night that it was too soon to start writing that book as they convincingly defeated Ironwood 54-28 in an Indianhead Conference rivalry game.
"We're not last year's team," Hurley coach Melissa Oja said. "We're this year's team and we played good team basketball tonight that carried over from the last two quarters of the Northland Pines game. We made good passes and took good shots and defensively we did very well in our man-to-man defense. We're getting to the point of where we should be. We want to be 'basically good'. That's being good at all the basics of basketball. That's the key to the game."
The game was a disappointment for the Red Devils as Aho said on Thursday that Ironwood was excited about playing Hurley and a win could have made the contest "a statement game" for Ironwood.
"We needed to come out and play like we did against Bessemer and we didn't," Aho said. "Everybody is disappointed and we were looking for a better show. We only got off a few shots and you're not going to score if you're not getting off shots. We were sluggish and moving slowly or not moving at all. We've had some sickness, some injuries, but you have to play through things."
The first quarter showed how into this game Hurley was. After an early 1-1 tie, the Midgettes stunned Ironwood by reeling off 15 straight points and took a 16-1 first quarter lead.
Hurley's Makayla Wolfe made one of her four triples from the right corner with 5:34 left in the quarter and Beka Harrington drilled two consecutive shots to put the orange and black up 10-1 at the 2:41 mark.
There was a scary moment in the game with 1:45 left in the quarter. Hurley's Gabby Pecotte reached high in the air for the ball and fell backwards towards the basket. She fell on the side of her head and it opened up a big cut above her eye. It took several minutes to stop the bleeding and a stretcher was brought in to escort her off the court. She did not seem to have been seriously hurt.
"It was a somber atmosphere," Oja said. "We're like a family and those are her friends and teammates out there. And she has her twin sister (Kirkie). To come back out and play, I was proud of the kids. For Kirkie to go back out there showed great character."
The Midgettes put an exclamation point on the quarter when Wolfe ran an out-of-bounds play and splashed a 3 with 0.1 seconds on the clock. She was fouled while shooting and completed a rare four-point play.
The cardinal and white went nearly ten minutes without a field goal. Emily DiGiorgio finally broke the ice at the 6:12 mark of the second quarter with a turn-around jumper.
But Hurley's Kayla Subert responded with a short shot in the lane and a free throw after the foul to make a 3 the old-fashioned way.
Ironwood got within 24-13, but Kirkie Pecotte launched a high, arching 3 and Natalie Moon sank two free throws as Hurley went into half-time with a 29-14 advantage.
The third quarter was even until Felicia Herlevi hit a deuce from the left wing with 10.2 seconds left and the quarter ended with Hurley leading 36-24.
Hurley surged into the fourth quarter with seven straight points and Wolfe inserted the dagger with a triple from the right wing with 3:50 left. Hurley went up 43-24.
Moon was also hurt late in the game when she went in for a lay-up and was fouled. She fell to the floor and her head and neck bounced off the padded wall behind the basket.
Jessica Gering was the only Red Devil to reach double-figures with 10 points.
Aho said that despite the loss, Ironwood players should not be hanging their heads.
"We're 4-2 going into the break,"Aho said. "And I think we're ready for the break to help with some things. There's still a lot of basketball to be played, and hopefully, the next time we play them will be a little different."
Wolfe had the hot hand during the game and finished with 15 points and Kirkie Pecotte garnered 11. Ironwood (4-2, 4-2 IC) is on break until a Jan. 3 in an Indianhead Conference game at Mellen at 7:15 p.m.
Hurley (3-2, 3-1 IC) travels to Ashland today for a non-conference game at 2:30 p.m. The JV gams tips off at 1 p.m.
Hurley won the junior varsity game.
Ironwood - Jessica Gering 10, Katie Piispanen 4, Emily DiGiorgio 7, Kacie Lundin 2, Paige Aho 2, Rachel Pallin 3. FTs: 4-11. Fouls: 16. Fouled out: none. 3-pointers: none.
Hurley - Makayla Wolfe15, Kayla Subert 5, Kirkie Pecotte 11, Dani Irons 2, Beka Harrington 8, Natalie Moon 5, Felicia Herlevi 8. FTs: 9-13. Fouls: 15. Fouled out: none. 3-pointers: Wolfe 4, Herlevi 2, Kirkie Pecotte 1.
Ironwood 1 14 24 28
Hurley 16 29 36 54