MOUNTAIN IRON — The Rangers came up against a big and athletic Eveleth-Gilbert team Tuesday in their home opener, but Mountain Iron-Buhl adjusted well to net an 88-74 victory over the visitors.
MI-B used its quickness and long-range shooting to control the game as Asher Zubich poured in 31 points and Nikolas Jesch dropped in another 25.
“It’s obviously a tough matchup for us with the size and athleticism that Eveleth has,’’ MI-B head coach Jeff Buffetta said. “For us, we just have to play up tempo and be able to shoot the ball from the perimeter and that’s going to be how we have success I guess. When we’re hitting some shots, that’s going to be a big difference for us.’’
Jesch did the most damage with 21 first-half points, while several others knocked down 3-pointers, as well.
“We have 5-6 guys that can knock down open shots. Asher’s going to take a lot of attention his way and that’s OK as we learn to spread the ball and others get involved. It’s going to work to our advantage.’’
The Rangers got out to a 19-11 lead thanks to Jesch, Zubich, Lukas Madson and Riley Busch, but Zach Lindseth, Jacob Sickel and Will Bittmann helped keep the Golden Bears in the contest. While MI-B led by as many as 15 points, Lindseth, Carter Mavec, Sickel and AJ Roen ahd the deficit down to 47-38 at intermission.
“I’m very impressed with our senior tonight Zach Lindseth. He did a phenomenal job carrying us through the first half. He put a lot of balls in the basket. He just kept keeping us in the game.’’
While Jesch led the first half for MI-B, it was Zubich’s time to shine in the second stanza.
He scored the Rangers’ first seven baskets, including a few circus shots while also drawing fouls.
Zubich’s outburst had MI-B up 63-48 before Sickel, Josh Creer-Oberstar and Roen cut it to 63-53 with shots from the field and the free throw line.
E-G just couldn’t get any closer, though, as Weigel, Zubich and Jeffrey Kayfes helped the home team put the game away, 88-74.
Buffetta was more than pleased with Zubich’s complete-game efort.
“I like that he showed some patience. He can’t get frustrated when people are putting their attention on you to take you away. You just have to keep playing. He had some nice quality assists in the first half and then he found his opportunities to get to the basket. As he shows patience like that, that’s going to be huge.’’
He was happy, too, with the entire team effort, how they shot the ball and played with energy. He added that his club will have to learn how to sustain energy because the boys got tired at times and E-G took advantage inside.
Regarding MI-B’s quickness, coach Roen said, “they played well rounded all around. They’re very quick. Well coached.’’
The E-G leader could tell MI-B had played on Saturday already, while E-G was playing it’s first game of the season. “It’s the beginning of the year ultimately so I just except it. We are building off of day one and go from there. In our team, we kind of saw those (first-game) jitters.’’
The Bears also learned what they have to work on in the future. “We’re going to work on our defense.’’ he said, which needs to be more aggressive.
Roen was also pleased with how well Sickel played as he dropped in 27 points and guarded Zubich even though he was sick. “He had a very tall task on him. He stepped up and said he’d still do it’’ even while being ill.
As a team, “eveyrone played well-rounded together pretty well.’’
MI-B (2-0) hosts Hill City Thursday and E-G (0-1) goes to Duluth Marshall on Saturday.
E-G 38 36 — 74
MI-B 47 41 — 88
E-G: Carter Mavec 6, AJ Roen 8, Zach Lindseth 18, Carter Flannigan 2, Josh Creer-Oberstar 4, Jacob Sickel 27, Will Bittmann 9. 3-pointers: Sickel 3. Free throws: 21-33. Total fouls: 17. Fouled out: None.
MI-B: Nels Parenteau 4, Asher Zubich 31, Jeffrey Kayfes 13, Hunter Weigel 2, Riley Busch 7, Josh Holmes 5, Nikolas Jesch 25, Lukas Madson 2. 3-pointers: Zubich 1, Kayfes 3, Weigel 1, Busch 1, Holmes 1, Jesch 4. Free throws: 15-21. Total fouls: 23. Fouled out: Zubich.
Moose Lake/WR 101,
At Virginia, the Blue Devils rallied from an 18-point halftime deficit but came up just short in a season-opening 101-91 loss to a tough Moose Lake/Willow River club.
“They shot the lights out. They shot the ball well,’’ head coach Derek Aho said.
“I’m proud of my guys coming back that second half,’’ he said. The deficit was cut to two points at one point but Virginia was forced to foul and the Rebels hit their free throws to seal the win.
“I can’t complain’’ for it being the first game of the season against one of the top teams in the section, Aho added.
Virginia was paced by Mason Carlson with 31 points, Kyle Williams with 22, Jayden Bernard with 20 and Dan Squires with 11.
ML/WR, meanwhile, was led by Mason Olson with 33 points.
The Blue Devils (0-1) host Greenway on Friday.
MLWR 57 44 — 101
VHS 39 52 — 91
MLWR: Logan Orevdahl 2, Ben Dewey 3, Duane Broughton 4, Brady Watrin 19, Phillip Sheetz 14, Mason Olson 33, Michael Olson 10, Carter Johnson 4, Landin Kurhajetz 12. 3-pointers: Dewey 1, Sheetz 3, Ma. Olson 5, Mi. Olson 2. Free throws: 16-19. Total fouls: 17. Fouled out: None.
Virginia: Joe Hafdahl 3, Dan Squires 11, Jack Toman 4, Jayden Bernard 20, Mason Carlson 31, Kyle Williams 22. 3-poineters: Carlson 4. Free throws: 9-18. Total fouls: 20. Fouled out: Hafdahl.
Mesabi East 83,
Moose Lake/WR 68
At Moose Lake, Ava Hill scored 24 points, including her 2,000th career point to help lead Mesabi East past the Rebels, 83-68.
Hannah Hannuksela also connected for 22 points, while Kora Forsline added 15 and Amelia Mattfield chipped in with 13.
Moose Lake/WR was paced by Natalie Mikrot with 14 points, which also included her 1,000th career point.
Mesabi East (2-0) hosts Eveleth-Gilbert on Thursday.
MLWR 41 27 — 68
M. East 40 43 — 83
ME: Alexa Fossell 4, Ava Hill 24, Meghan Walker 3, Hannah Hannuksela 22, Kora Forsline 15, Stevie Hakala 2, Amelia Mattfield 13. 3-pointers; Hill 1, Walker 1, Hannuksela 1. Forsline 1. Free throws: 15-21. Total fouls: 14. Fouled out: None.
MLWR: Grace Stephenson 6, Skyla Thompson 4, Natalie Mikrot 14, Maci Kukuk 11, Alivia Mallory 4, Kelli Granquist 3, Monica Mikrot 12, Ella Rhoades 11, Emily Bohnsack 3. 3-pointers: G. Stephenson 2, N. Mikrot 4, Kukuk 3, Granquist 1, Monica Mikrot 4, Rhoades 1, Bohnsack 1. Free throws: 2-5. Total fouls: 22. Fouled out: N. Mikrot, S. Thompson.