The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Devils survive Speedboys to clinch share of East Division title

 

Jason Juno/Daily Globe

Ironwood's Colin Clausen, left, and Brett Ossanna, right, and Bessemer's Andrew Peterson (21) react after the Red Devils completed their 61-59 victory over the Speedboys Friday at John Krznarich Gym in Ironwood. Bel

IRONWOOD - It's not often conference titles take a backseat to anything.

But beating one of your biggest rivals with a wild finish in front of a pumped up crowd, that's hard to beat.

Ironwood clinched at least a share of the Indianhead Conference East Division title with a 61-59 victory over Bessemer Friday night. The Red Devils need to win just one of their remaining two games to take the championship outright.

The week started out bleak with a Tuesday loss at their other rival, Hurley, but Ironwood bounced back in a big way Friday night.

"This was a big game for conference; we didn't want to tie," Ironwood senior Jacob DiGiorgio said. "We put in the hours. We wanted it bad. We had to bounce back. In practice, our mentality was 'Bounce back, play D, offense, work on everything, get better everyday.'"

The story for the first 32 minutes Friday night was how Bessemer couldn't miss from behind the arc. Then it all became about the wild finish.

The Speedboys took a 53-47 lead on a Hunter Reed basket early in the fourth.

Ironwood's Jared Sobolewski made a jumper. Denver Sharrow, who led all scorers with 26 points, drained a 3 to cap a long possession. Bessemer still led 53-52 with 3:29 left.

Ironwood got the ball back and missed, but Sobolewski fought through four Bessemer players for the rebound. Jake DiGiorgio ended up capitalizing by banking in a shot with 1:35 left. That put Ironwood up 54-53, its first lead since the beginning of the second half.

"I practice that everyday, high off board everytime," DiGiorgio said. "I knew once I released it, it was going in. It felt good. That's just hours of work. That just felt good."

Lewinski said Sobolewski is Ironwood's "glue."

"Six, eight points a game, he's our leading assist man, our second-leading rebounder next to DiGiorgio," Lewinski said. "He does the little things that don't show up in the paper, but he's so valuable for us. What a player, a strong rebounder. He knows his role, he's a perfect role player. He relishes in it."

Sobolewski rebounded a Bessemer miss. After a timeout, Ironwood barely broke the Bessemer press and the Speedboys fouled Sobolewski, who made both free throws with 54.3 seconds left to put Ironwood ahead 56-53.

Bessemer's answer, of course, came from behind the arc, where it made 11 of 18 and seven of its first nine. Zack Mazurek splashed a 3 to tie at 56 with 34.5 seconds left.

The Devils were playing for the last shot, but the Speedboys decided to intentionally foul. Andrew Peterson fouled Sharrow with 15.3 seconds left. Sharrow made them both to give Ironwood a 58-56 lead.

As Bessemer crossed halfcourt, Jess Mazzon passed behind him to Lance Berwald. The Speedboys were called for a backcourt violation with 9.6 seconds left.

"We weren't going to let them win it at the end," Partanen said of fouling with the score tied. "We wanted them to go to the line and we wanted to be able to take the shot to win it at the end. Then we had the over-and-back. That was the critical one. But why not? We hit how many 3s. If they crank it down under 15, under 10 seconds, they shoot it, we don't have time to come back. We figured, let's lengthen the game, foul them right away and have a chance to win it at the end."

Sharrow went back to the line and made two to put Ironwood ahead 60-56. Berwald made a 3 quickly.

Somehow, things got even more interesting.

It wasn't easy getting the ball inbounds under Bessemer's basket, but DiGiorgio did, to Luke Hewitt, who made one free throw to put Ironwood up 61-59.

Coming out of a timeout, Mazurek had the defense beat, but Mazzon's pass was over his head.

"It was a layup," Partanen said. "He had it, if he catches the ball."

Lewinski said Ironwood was fortunate the pass didn't connect.

"We said switch on all picks and no long passes," he said. "That's what they did. Jake got screened, we didn't switch. He was beat. He was running back there, but he was beat. Fortunate enough for us, they threw it out of bounds."

Ironwood got the ball back under its own basket. By the time Colin Clausen got to the free throw line, there was only .8 second on the clock and the Speedboys were out of chances.

"Credit Ironwood, we kept our poise, we made our free throws," Lewinski said. "We had that senior poise and leadership and we didn't falter. That's a credit to our kids. Both teams played well."

Partanen said the difference late was the Speedboys' lack of focus with the ball.

DiGiorgio ended up with 15 points as Bessemer shut the inside down.

"I was really happy with our interior defense, Max (Samardich), (Josh) Tomes, ben Bogaczyk, Hunter Reed. I thought they did a great job on DiGiorgio underneath," Partanen said.

Lewinski wanted to get the ball inside, as DiGiorgio dominated the first matchup at Bessemer, but with Bessemer's attention there, it opened up Ironwood's outside game and Sharrow stepped up with five triples. He took the ball to the basket to help open up the outside.

"He's a great shooter, puts in work just like hours and hours with shots and shots," DiGiorgio said.

Lewinski said, "I thought we got away from our offense the last couple of games, especially at Hurley on Tuesday night. I thought we ran our offense well. We looked inside. They did a good job on us inside. But our outside shots, Sharrow was on fire, Clausen hit a couple of nice 3-point shots.We couldn't turn the ball over. I thought Luke Hewitt did stellar job from the point guard position, especially against the pressure of Berwald, dogging him all day."

Colin Clausen hit three 3s and scored 11 points. Sobolewski led Ironwood with 11 boards.

Berwald had a great game, scoring 25 points for Bessemer off five 3s. Mazurek hit four and scored 12.

Ironwood has now won the title three years in a row. It can clinch it outright with a win against Butternut Tuesday or at Wakefield-Marenisco Friday.

"What I like is we don't need help," Lewinski said. "We're in position to do it ourselves. Every year the past three years, it's been a dog fight between Bessemer and us. We were fortunate, for us to come back like that because they're a tough team and the way they shot the basketball."

Bessemer (11-5, 9-4) goes to Mercer Monday. Ironwood (15-2, 12-2) hosts Butternut Tuesday.

Bessemer - Max Samardich 2, Andrew Peterson 8, Jess Mazzon 6, Lance Berwald 25, Zack Mazurek 12, Hunter Reed 4, Josh Tomes 2. FTs: 2-2. Fouls: 18. Fouled out: Mazzon. 3-pointers: Berwald 5, Mazurek 4, Peterson 2.

Ironwood - Denver Sharrow 26, Luke Hewitt 3, Colin Clausen 11, Jake DiGiorgio 15, Jared Sobolewski 6. FTs: 14-20. Fouls: 5. Fouled out: None. 3-pointers: Sharrow 5, Clausen 3, DiGiorgio 1.

Bessemer 15 30 48 59

Ironwood 16 28 43 61

 
 

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