ISHPEMING — It’s one of the U.P.’s biggest rivalries: Ishpeming and Negaunee. The Hematites and Miners are set to tangle tomorrow night in the Class ‘C’ District Semifinals.
The two teams met twice during the regular season, with Negaunee winning both of the matchups. Ishpeming and Negaunee played each other less than a week ago.
The Miners came out on top of that one and it wasn’t close. However, both coaches are certain this game will go down to the wire.
“We need to slow down their combo guards and we also need to execute,” said Ishpeming head coach Ryan Reichel. “We need to execute the scouting report and we need to be engaged from the get go because you cannot give up a quarter to this kind of a team because they’re so well coached and they’re seasoned. This is the time of the year that they’re going to be playing at their best as well.”
“We’ve got some experience, which we haven’t had a lot of in the past,” said Negaunee head coach Brandon Sager. “We’ve faced Ishpeming and lost in the last three finals, so we’re hoping maybe that playing them first is the good chance we need. I think that our experience and the girls know after being there and fueling that fire after a couple of hard losses the last couple of years in the finals. I think they’ll be prepared and ready to go.”
A big key to the game could be the play of the Johnson sisters, Aleda and Clara. The sisters always seem to be on the same page.
“They just don’t quit,” said Sager about the Johnson sisters. “We can be down 20 with 30 seconds to go and they still believe we have a chance to win that game.”
“I’ve seen probably 13 of their games and watching them play is fun because you can tell they’ve put the time in,” said Reichel. “They’re tenacious and they represent their school very well. It’s March. This is the best part of basketball is playing at this time of the year.”
Tomorrow night’s game is set for 7:00 p.m. at Ishpeming.