Houghton and Hancock shared Wing Ding basketball victories | News, Sports, Jobs

The Hancock Central High School women’s basketball team poses with the Wing Ding trophy after defeating Houghton 52-45 on Thursday, Feb. 10, 2022 in Houghton, Mich. (Eddie O’Neill/The Daily Mining Gazette)

HOUGHTON — It was a packed house Thursday night at the Houghton High School gymnasium as the Gremlins boys and girls basketball teams hosted the Hancock Bulldogs for the annual Wing Ding game.

Both schools took the win as the Hancock girls won 52-45 in the first match, and the Houghton boys retained the trophy with the nightcap victory 58-29.

In Game 1, the Hancock Girls (13-3) came out strong and tenacious and never looked back. It was on purpose according to their head coach Ward Helakoski.

“We went out and played every possession like it really mattered,”he said. “I thought the girls were moving the ball well, and our cuts and screens were good.”

Persistent defense and a good rebound pushed the Bulldogs to a 15-9 lead after one. That six-point lead grew to a 10-point lead early in the second at 21-11 and 24-14. Thanks to back-to-back triples from Houghton’s Paige Sleeman, the Gremlins went 24-20 with about three minutes left in the second. It was a 28-23 Hancock halftime tilt.

Houghton’s best streak (14-2) came at the opener of the third quarter. A triple from Annika Peterson and a bucket from Stella Wickstrom tied the Gremlins at 28-28. Peterson then sank three more for the Gremlins to take a brief 31-28 lead, but that was as good as it gets for the home side.

“Overall I think we didn’t play well” said Houghton head coach Julie Filpus. “Our poor game was the result of their aggression. As we briefly took the lead there, you could tell Hancock wanted this one more.

According to Helakoski, the game changer came just after the tie at 28. Kaisa Salani and Kalli Chynoweth hit back-to-back threes and put the Bulldogs up by seven.

“You could say the momentum changed after that,” he said.

The Bulldogs then led by eight after three quarters and held that lead until the end. Chynoweth led the scoring for Hancock with 17 points including four three-pointers. Salani followed with 16 points. For the Gremlins, Wickstrom led the scoring with 15 points. Sleeman was 13.

“It was a big win for us” said Helakoski. “The girls gave their all and I was very happy for them.”

HCHS 15 13 15 9 — 52

HHS 9 14 12 10 — 45

HANCOCK (52): Chynoweth 17, Pietila 5, Salani 16, Driscoll 6, Hebert 7, Koskela 1. 3 points: Chynoweth 4, Pietila 1, Salani 3. FT: 4-12.

HOUGHTON (45): Peterson 12, Sleeman 13, Wickstrom 15, Trewhella 1. 3 points: Sleeman 3, Trewhella 1. FT: 6-9.

Boys: Houghton 58, Hancock 29

In the boys’ Wing Ding game, the Houghton Gremlins (7-7) once again proved too much for the Hancock Bulldogs by taking a 58-29 victory. It was Houghton’s seventh victory in Wing Ding since the rival game’s inception eight years ago. The Bulldogs have only won the trophy once, and that was in 2017.

According to Houghton head coach Jared Lawson, Thursday’s victory had another significant implication, and that was the fact that the win sealed his team a first-place finish in the WestPAC Conference Copper Division.

“It’s important to us” Lawson said. “We have always won the division as a team goal at the start of every season.”

“He said he was happy with the senior management of his team on Thursday night.

“I had my seniors there to start the game and the second half,” he said. “They brought the energy needed in a great game like this, and it was great to see.”

They also brought in the points as they held a 13-0 lead in the opening minutes of the game and overall held the Bulldogs to 10 points and under throughout the four quarters.

The Gremlins split the score with everyone getting at least one bucket except for one player. Tucker Ryynanen led the scoring with 13 points including three threes.

“We play well” Lawson said. “Guys are coming in and we’re playing really good basketball these days.”

HCHS 8 10 6 5 — 29

HHS 19 16 14 9 — 58

HANCOCK (29): Jacques 14, Larson 3, Sebbas 3, Pietila 5, Lewis 4. 3 points: Jacques 2, Sebbas 1, Pietila 1. FT: 3-11.

HOUGHTON (58): Lawson 3, Hill 1, Kiernan 2, K. Primeau 7, Salmi 9, Ryynanen 13, Pugh 2, D. Primeau 7, Guidas 5. 3 scorers: Lawson 1, Salmi 3, Ryynanen 3, D. Primeau 1. IP: 4-7.

Today’s breaking news and more to your inbox

Clifton L. Boyd