HOUGHTON LAKE — Elli Djerf knows exactly what to look forward to Wednesday.
“Getting a better Hotel,” the Calumet senior said after leading the Copper Kings to the Final Four with a 73-69 win Monday over Glen Lake. “We’ve been staying at this Super Eight and we’ve all been looking forward to a nice hotel.”
Monday’s Division 3 quarterfinal at Houghton Lake earned Calumet (19-0) a berth in the Final Four at Michigan State University’s Breslin Student Events Center.
Djerf, a manager in sixth grade for the last Calumet team to advance to the Final Four back in 2015, goes in uniform this time around. She almost tripled the Super Eight, putting up 23 on the Lakers, who came into the game undefeated at 19-0.
“It was so weird,” Djerf said. “It felt like everything was so much bigger and you looked around and you couldn’t tell who was in the stands, nothing.”
No issues with that Monday in Houghton Lake’s gym.
The two teams that looked like carbon copies — multiple tall players, pressing, zone defense, running seven deep — and played to a back-and-forth game that saw the Copper Kings lead by eight in the second quarter, only to have the Lakers rally for a one-point halftime advantage and roll that momentum into the third quarter to take a 12-point lead on Hailey Helling’s baseline 3-pointer midway through the stanza.
Calumet junior Marybeth Halonen scored six points in a row for the Copper Kings, spurring an early fourth-quarter run that put Calumet up 65-57.
The Lakers clawed back within four on Grace Fosmore’s bucket with 56 ticks left, and Calumet missed six of nine free throws in the final 1:02 to keep the door open. But the Lakers couldn’t capitalize. Maddie Bradford hit a triple as time expired for the final four-point margin.
“Calumet, we knew was going to be tough,” Glen Lake head coach Jason Bradford said. “We watched their game against St. Ignace and we knew it was going to be tough.”
After Djerf’s 23 points, Alexis Strom scored 16, Halonen 15, Lizzie Torola seven and Jana Loukus and Helen Beiring each six.
Glen Lake also spread out its production, with Grace Bradford leading the way with 14 points, Ruby Hogan adding 13 and Maddie Bradford and Fosmore each scoring a dozen. Jessica Robbins pitched in nine, Hailey Helling seven and Emma Korson two.
The Lakers lose Helling, Fosmore and Korson from their core rotation of seven players.
“Like I told the seniors and the girls, I said, ‘You had a heck of a season, 19-0, coming down here, only four teams left to after this.’,” Bradford said. ”But it still hurts. The girls were playing with heart and emotion.”
Helling returned from a severe ankle sprain that forced her to miss all of regionals, and started at point guard in what would be her final basketball game as a Laker.
She drew assists on each of the Lakers’ first two buckets, both to Fosmore underneath.
“She had a tough road,” Bradford said. “She did a lot of work and a lot of extra things (to get back). She finds that open girl, and she’s a true team player. She doesn’t care how many points she has. It’s just helping the team to win.”
Glen Lake’s last four playoff opponents came into their matchup against the Lakers with a combined one loss. Glen Lake dispatched of the first three by at least 22 points.