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Intrigue at the halfway point

January 20, 2009 - David Karnosky
As the winter prep season reaches the halfway point, some teams are still treading undiscovered territory, while others are looking for a rematch.

The Houghton girls' team hosts Calumet tonight in their first Houghton County WestPAC test, while the Copper King boys host Hancock Thursday, winners of three straight. The Gremlins have played three WestPAC games, all wins, with only L'Anse (Dec. 5) keeping the margin of victory under 33 points.

Samantha Manderfield is building a case for U.P. Player of the Year honors, with a scoring average of 17.6 points per game and efforts of 27 and 29 points last week against Jeffers and Westwood last week.

Calumet (5-3, 2-2 WestPAC) is getting it done by committee. Despite the winning record, no Copper King is averaging 10 points per game.

Elsewhere, Hancock will attempt to stop a two-game slide, but must win at undefeated Ontonagon Tuesday to do it.

Since hanging 50 on Bessemer Dec. 12, the Bulldogs have either scored as many or fewer points as the game before in every contest since, bottoming out in a 29-point effort at Jeffers Friday.

The Glads are averaging 51.5 points per game, but Hancock has the lowest scoring defense average of any area team: 30.1.

Elsewhere Tuesday, Chassell and Jeffers clash in Painesdale, L'Anse hosts winless Ewen-Trout Creek and Dollar Bay visits Lake Linden-Hubbell.

Friday, five games are on tap, including Hancock at Chassell, Calumet at Ironwood, Ontonagon at Lake Linden-Hubbell, Jeffers at Baraga and L’Anse at Dollar Bay.

In boys’ basketball, Hancock is on the road Thursday looking to avenge a 48-36 season-opening loss to Calumet.

In the first meeting, Josh Verran led all scorers with 16 points, but James Loukus led a balanced Calumet attack with 14.

Houghton travels to Ironwood for a critical WestPAC road test. The Red Devils had sole possession of the league lead after West Iron County fell to Calumet Friday, but squandered it, getting pummeled 63-30 in the Wykons’ home gym.

The game is the last Houghton plays outside its home city in over a month. The Gremlins play their next five games at home, then face Hancock at the SDC Gym on Wing Ding night (Feb. 13), and host Ironwood Feb. 17 before a Feb. 20 trip to Escanaba.

Around the area, the undefeated Ewen-Trout Creek Panthers make their first visit to Houghton County Thursday at Chassell. L'Anse visits Dollar Bay, Ontonagon is at Jeffers and Baraga reprises a thrilling one-point season-opening win, this time at Lake Linden-Hubbell.

In high school hockey, Jeffers and L'Anse will make up their cold-postponed game at the SDC Thursday.

The game joins a busy night on ice which includes Kingsford at Houghton and Hancock at Negaunee.

Calumet plays its first conference game at home Friday against 6-6-1 Escanaba. The Eskymos were blanked 4-0 by Hancock and escaped with a one-goal win over Jeffers in the New Year Invitational at the MacInnes Student Ice Arena two weeks ago.

Hancock crosses the peninsula to play in the Sault Lions Tournament Friday against New Baltimore Anchor Bay and Saturday against either the host Blue Devils or Harper Woods Notre Dame.


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