HURLEY - Ironwood played well and Hurley did not.
It was that simple and it led to Ironwood getting off to a good start early in the new year by downing Hurley 57-46 in an important Indianhead Conference rivalry game on Thursday night.
"At times, we looked really good and at times we had some breakdowns," Red Devil coach Pete Lewinski said. "Overall, we did a good job. It seemed like we had a bitter taste from the Ashland game (a 64-37 loss). It was just that we could have given them a better game. It was nice to bounce back."
Lewinski said it was a little different preparing for a game so early in the new year.
"It's Jan. 2," Lewinski said. "We're still on break and Hurley's in school. We practiced all week, New Year's Day and today we had a shoot around. Otherwise, they sit around and play video games. It worked out well."
Hurley coach Gary Giancola said he enjoyed playing on Jan. 2, but he didn't enjoy the outcome.
"We practiced throughout the holidays, Ironwood's coming to town, big crowd and we came out flat," Giancola said. "It's disappointing for our fans. We don't have a lot of rah-rah, in your face kids. It's not for lack of effort or they don't care. Lesson learned.
"We absolutely have to be more disciplined and patient on offense and get back on defense. We don't have a lights out, 30-point scorer right now. We can't fall in love with the 3 and not shoot well or run the offense. We were 13-58 shooting and 4-21 on 3s.
"Ironwood played well and played with lots of energy."
The Red Devils came to play right out of the gate. Senior Bryant Rowe buried a 3 from the left wing five seconds into the game. Denver Sharrow nailed another triple with 6:56 left in the quarter, putting Ironwood up 6-0.
But the Devils were just warming up. On an in-bounds play at the 6:02 mark, Adam Mackey went through a series of screens and found himself wide-open under the basket for a lay-in. He was fouled and converted a free throw for a 3 the old-fashioned way. Jon Erickson was laying on the floor when he made a slick pass to Sharrow, who drove the base-line, spun in the air and put in his shot.
With 5:08 remaining in the quarter, Jared Sobolewski was fouled in the lane and converted two free throws.
Ironwood 13, Hurley 0.
The Devils had precision passing the whole game, moving the ball quickly and everyone getting touches.
"I was happy with the way we attacked their 1-3-1 zone," Lewinski said. "We got off to that 13-0 start and it seemed to settle us down. In Ironwood-Hurley games, or any rivalry game, anything can happen. But it (the start) got us relaxed and into our rhythm and forced Hurley to play from behind."
By the end of the first quarter, Ironwood had a 20-7 and the Midgets knew they had dug themselves a sizable hole. But Hurley didn't give up and after baskets and free throws by James Sukanen and Mark Saari, Jake Colassaco splashed a deep 3 to narrow Ironwood's lead to 24-17.
The Red Devils responded with another spurt. Baskets by Rowe and Jake DiGiorgio increased Ironwood's advantage and then Mackey showed why he is the catalyst on the court. First, he drained a top-of-the-key 3 and then, laying in the weeds in the backcourt, Mackey struck for a steal and zipped a pass to Sharrow wide open in the lane.
At halftime, the Red Devils led 36-17.
Ironwood shot 14-26 (54 percent) in the first half, while Hurley was 5-27 (18 percent).
The only question was whether the Midgets could muster an improbable comeback in the second half, and Ironwood shut that door quickly by outscoring Hurley 17-6 in the third quarter and led 53-23.
There were no Hurley field goals until Jared Wendt made a baby hook from the lane with 2:31 remaining in the quarter.
Sharrow was the game's top gun with 17 points, while Mackey notched 12 and Rowe had 11.
Giancola said Mark Saari played a "good, physical game" and topped Hurley's scoring with 13 points. Sukanen garnered 10.
Hurley won the junior varsity game 40-28.
Ironwood (5-1, 5-0 IC) travels to Ewen-Trout Creek on Tuesday for a non-conference game tipping off at 6:15 p.m.
"We're 5-0 in the Indianhead," Lewinski said. "We want to be in the driver's seat and not have to chase teams. But we still have three crossover games in the West where we have to travel."
Hurley (7-3, 3-2 IC) hosts Drummond on Thursday at 7:15 p.m. in another conference battle and Giancola wasn't about to give up.
"We've still got the pieces, we just need to play better," he said.
Ironwood - Denver Sharrow 17, Adam Mackey 12, Bryant Rowe 11, Jacob DiGiorgio 8, Jared Sobolewski 8, James Giannunzio 1. FTs: 6-12. Fouls: 20. Fouled out: none. 3-pointers: Sharrow 1, Mackey 1, Rowe 1..
Hurley - Jordan Kolpin 3, Jake Tenlen 4, Jared Wendt 3, Jake Colassaco 7, Mark Saari 13, James Sukanen 10, Cameron Rowe 3. FTs: 16-27, Fouls: 16. Fouled out: none. 3-pointers: Tenlen 1, Rowe 1, Vaara 1.
Ironwood 20 36 53 57
Hurley 7 17 23 46