ESCANABA - The Negaunee Miners posted a daunting 22-3 record last season, easily putting them amongst the elite teams in the U.P. When they came to play Escanaba Tuesday, it appears that not much has changed.
The Miners defeated the Eskymos on their home floor 70-32 in the opener for both teams, and it was a lopsided contest right from the start.
"In the first quarter, it was positive," said Negaunee coach Mike O'Donnell. "We really had some energy, we were flying around, creating some turnovers, getting some easy baskets, hitting some perimeter shots. Any time that happens on the road at the start, you feel good.
Justin Marietti | Daily Press
Escanaba’s Jamie Hiltunen puts up a three-pointer as Negaunee’s Tyler Jandron (14) defends during their game Thursday, in Escanaba. The Miners won 70-32.
"They just kind of fed off of that positive start and continued with it throughout the rest of the game."
Negaunee's Tanner Uren opened the game with two back-to-back deuces, and then teammate Michael Anderson hit a three-pointer, and the Eskymos were already in a 7-0 hole.
Escanaba simply couldn't catch a break in the early part of the game; what looked like a nice drive to the hole and a lay-in resulted in a charging call. Then, Escanaba coach Tracy Hudson was called for a technical foul, just his second in 17 years of coaching.
Escanaba 8 4 9 11 - 32
Negaunee 20 19 17 14 - 70
Escanaba: Macon 5, Hiltunen 2, Kleiman 2, Molnar 2, Olgren 4, Robinette 12, LaPalm 2, Falish 1, Fournier 2; FT: 3-7; F: 19; Fouled out: Dan LaPalm; 3-point field goals: Macon
Negaunee: Weaver 2, Radloff 6, Lori 12, O'Keefe 2, Jandron 19, Anderson 2, Uren 15, Martin 6, Katona 4, Bergstrom 2; FT: 13-23; F: 13; Fouled out: none; 3-point field goals: Lori 1, Jandron 3, Uren 1
The Miners charged out to a 20-8 lead after the opening quarter. However, the downpour didn't end there; Negaunee's Tyler Jandron nailed a triple to open the second quarter, and he was also fouled in the act of shooting. He hit both free throws that followed, and added five points to their already massive lead.
Escanaba found themselves in the penalty very early on, and Negaunee took full advantage, as they lived at at the line for the remainder of the half. It didn't help that they were also knocking down virtually every shot they took, and their press kept Escanaba flustered, leading to turnovers and transition buckets.
The Eskymos were held to only 4 points in the quarter, and the game was all but wrapped up as they headed into halftime with a 39-12 deficit.
"We played a very talented team that really doesn't have any weaknesses," said Hudson. "I think this is one of about seven or eight teams in class C that could win a state championship, I really do. There's no shame in losing to them the way we did. We're just a better team than we showed tonight. We didn't execute."
In the second half, Negaunee outscored Escanaba 31-20, and put in their reserves in the fourth quarter. Escanaba did, however, keep the game from going to a running clock until the final minute, due in large part to the efforts of Jordan Ogren's play in the final quarter.
Rebounding was dominated by Negaunee, who pulled down 40 boards in the game.
The Miners' jayvees also won their game 66-54. Both teams resume Friday; Negaunee hosts Superior Central, while Escanaba hosts Kingsford.