The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Northstars win at Ironwood


January 11, 2020

Jason Juno/Daily Globe

Hurley's Tony Cummings celebrates the Northstars' win over Ironwood Thursday night.


Ironwood - Halftime came at a good time for Hurley Thursday night. As much as the Hurley coaches preached that playing rival Ironwood was just another game, the players weren't sold.

The Northstars 10-point lead was down to one as Ironwood turned some careless Hurley possessions into easy layups and that advantage was down to one at the half.

"It was good for us to get in the locker room and let some of those young guys a chance to catch their breath," Hurley coach Mike Swartz said. "I thought they were a little jittery. It was a big game, big crosstown rivalry. They were just playing a little fast."

One of the youngest of those players, freshman Domonic Croci, hit a couple of early 3s as the Northstars scored the first nine points of the second half, getting their lead right back to double figures and eventually as high as 14. They withheld a late Ironwood charge to beat the Red Devils 67-58.

"They're amped up, Ironwood's amped up, it's a big crowd, it's a tournament feel to it," Swartz said. "I was really proud of our guys for just hunkering down second half. All we talked about at halftime was just having a good possession every time down the floor. I thought we did for the most part."

Ironwood had won its first three home games this season and the last 13 Indianhead Conference games at home, dating back to wins at John Krznarich Gym by Drummond and Washburn in the 2017-18 season.

"We usually play tough at home, but we had a tough opponent," Ironwood coach Pete Lewinski said. "I'm proud of my team. We fought, we battled with them, we just came up short tonight. Give Hurley credit, they're a force to be reckoned with. They have a shot at the title."

Everyone in the Indianhead has at least two conference losses except for Hurley and Mellen, both of whom are undefeated. They meet on Monday night in Hurley, but the Northstars also needed to win at South Shore Friday night (after this edition went to press) to enter Monday with a chance to win and have first place to themselves.

Hurley worked the first-half lead to 25-15 thanks in part to a couple of 3s by Corbin Taylor, who led the Northstars with 16 points.

The Red Devils, though, finished the half on a 13-4 run as they were able to get a few fast break opportunities off turnovers and quick Hurley possessions. Sawyer Stengard had seven of his game-high 18 points in that stretch.

Ironwood had all the momentum going into the second half, but Hurley didn't care, scoring the first nine points of the half, starting with a 3 by Croci and a 2 by Tony Cummings. Two baskets by Hurley's other inside force, Braxton Sbraggia, made it 38-28. Croci hit another 3 just after the run was over to make it 41-30.

Another Taylor 3 made it 57-43 Hurley, but the Devils weren't done. A triple by Tommy Lundin pulled the Red Devils to within five with 1:36 to go.

Ironwood never cut the deficit to one possession even though they had chances. A 3 by Stengard rimmed out with under 30 seconds on the clock and Mason Recla missed another Ironwood 3.

"Fortunate we were able to withstand it tonight and we made enough plays to be able to win the game," Swartz said. "Tough road gym, tough gym to play in."

Taylor had a big night, becoming the fifth different Northstar to lead in scoring in just six games. He hadn't scored more than six points in any of the first five games.

Swartz was happy for his senior to play so well in this type of game.

"That's what makes us I think a dangerous team, we have multiple guys that can score any given night," Swartz said.

"The games we saw him, he was deferring to the two freshmen and, senior, he stepped it up," Lewinski said. "I thought Taylor had a heck of a game. We had our hands full with Sbraggia and Cummings. We leave Croci open and he hit a few 3s on us. They've got all the weapons."

Cummings finished with 13 points and Croci had 12. Derek Ransanici was big defensively off the bench for Hurley.

"Tommy (Lundin) gave us some fits on his postups early on," Swartz said. "We switched Derek there and he gave us some good minutes offensively, too."

Lundin finished with 16 and Recla had 13.

Ironwood struggled with the extra possessions Hurley had thanks to Cummings and Sbraggia inside.

"They're a tough team to deal with," Lewinski said. "Their two big guys inside are very active and good and they have three perimeter scorers."

Hurley (6-0, 5-0) goes to South Shore tonight. Ironwood (4-2, 2-2) heads to Bayfield Monday night.

Ironwood (4-2, 2-2) travels to Bayfield Monday and to Mellen on Thursday. The Red Devils host Mercer on Jan. 21.

Hurley - Corbin Taylor 16, , Eli Talsma 9, Dominic Croci 12, Derek Ransanici 9, Tony Cummings 13, Braxton Sbraggia 8. FTs: 18-26. Fouls: 13. Fouled out: None. 3-pointers: Taylor 5, Croci 2.

Ironwood - Joe Kashich 8, Sawyer Stengard 18, Tommy Lundin 16, Mason Recla 13, Matt DiGiorgio 2, Drew Dabb 1. FTs: 4-8. Fouls: 20. Fouled out: Lundin. 3-pointers: Stengard 2, Lundin 2, Kashich 2, Recla 2.

Hurley 29 67

Ironwood 28 58


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