Lyle leads Hematites over Braves

ISHPEMING – Joe Lyle turned in a career-best performance for the Ishpeming High School boys basketball team Wednesday night.

The 6-1 senior forward scored a game-high 27 points to spark the Hematites to a 76-62 non-conference victory over visiting Gladstone.

Lyle also hauled in a game-best 10 rebounds and came up with five steals as the Hematites improved to 4-4.

“He made 10-of-18 shots. That’s pretty good from the field,” Ishpeming head coach John Tiziani said. “He had some puppies around the basket early that didn’t go in and I told him to just stay with it.

“I said ‘they’re going to drop’ and sure enough … he had a whale of a game.”

Lyle notched 15 of his points in the first half as IHS took a 38-30 lead at intermission.

“We stuck to our game plan our coach wrote up, to get the ball inside to me and Cody Kugler,” Lyle said. “It paid off. A lot of my shots were inside from offensive rebounds or driving.

“That (27 points) is my career high. My next highest was 24 against Gwinn two years ago for the jayvee team.”

Bobby Zhulkie tossed in 10 of his points in the first 16 minutes to help neutralize the Braves’ Jared Vuksan’s 13.

Vuksan finished with a team-high 22 points, with teammates Blake Ballard (13) and Michael Cretens (11) combining for 24 more.

Tiziani said Ishpeming’s 1-2-2 and 1-3-1 defenses gave Gladstone trouble.

“It seemed to keep them at bay,” he said. “They struggled with their shooting.”

The Braves (6-5) made just 24-of-62 field goals for 39 percent while the Hematites were hitting 26-of-54 for 48 percent.

“It was our best defensive game this season, even though they scored 62 points,” Lyle said. “They put up a lot of forced shots.”

Gladstone coach Phil Griebel said Ishpeming’s zone wasn’t necessarily the problem for his team.

“We were ready for their zone. We just missed a lot of open looks,” he said. “We also turned the ball over a lot.

“Ishpeming did a good job attacking our defense. We did a poor job there.”

The Hematites – with the help of a 3-point bucket by Zhulkie- went on a 9-2 run to open the third quarter and never looked back.

IHS led 54-40 entering the final quarter an Gladstone never got closer than 12 points (several times) the rest of the way.

“We improved since our last game and that’s what I want every time out,” Tiziani said. “We fought underneath for rebounds and got out on transition well. We pushed the ball up the floor.

“the kids also saw creases in (Gladstone’s) defense and finished fairly well.”

Gladstone took the jayvee game, 40-36.