IRON MOUNTAIN - West Iron County's Kylee Erickson volunteered to guard Forest Park star Lexi Gussert.
The Wykon senior may have another tough defensive assignment tonight in the Class C District 95 girls basketball final with Iron Mountain.
Senior guard Katelynn Johnson has been the chief Mountaineer offensive threat, drilling six triples against Gladstone in the regular season finale and coming back with three Monday in the district-opening win over Norway.
Burt Angeli/The Daily News Photos
West Iron County’s Kylee Erickson (22) may draw the defensive assignment of guarding Iron Mountain’s Katelynn Johnson (22) in Wednesday's Class C District 95 girls basketball final.
"Possibly," said Wykons coach Mike Dallavalle when asked if Erickson would draw Johnson on defense. "We know we can't give her that opening. She can get hot in a hurry.
"We saw that tonight and we've seen it in the past. We'll take a look at some film and go from there."
The Wykons will also have defensive concerns with Morgan Bujold, Abby Gerhard, Sarah Pirkola and Alena Herman. They all scored more than 12 points in the win over the Knights.
"We know we're going to have to bring our best defensively and we have to execute better offensively," Dallavalle said after his Wykons outlasted Stephenson 33-31 in the second district semifinal Monday.
Gussert scored 37 points when once-beaten Forest Park handled West Iron 61-39 in early January. When the February rematch came around, the 5-foot-6 Erickson asked Dallavalle for the opportunity to guard the 6-foot Gussert.
"She's all yours," Dallavalle responded.
Gussert wound up with 32 points in a 61-39 victory.
"Lexi is obviously a phenomenal basketball player," Erickson said. "I'm always up for a challenge and what greater of a challenge than guarding Lexi Gussert could I ask for?
"I told him I was going to give it my all and not give her any uncontested shots."
Erickson, a U.P. tennis standout, was primarily concerned with limiting Gussert's wide-open looks from the three-point line. She hit seven in the first game.
"I stuck to her like glue the entire game," said Erickson, noting Gussert hit one three-pointer and scored 12 points in the first half. "But there's only so much you can to do when guarding Lexi. Once her teammates got the ball inside to her more in the second half, that was it."
Iron Mountain (5-15) hosts West Iron (11-10) at 6 tonight in the district championship. Winner heads to the Marquette regional to face the winner from the Houghton district.
Erickson scored 24 points, with five triples, when the Wykons opened the season Dec. 4 with a 55-37 victory over the unsettled Mountaineers. Johnson, out of the lineup with a wrist injury suffered in volleyball, didn't make season debut until Dec. 14.
Gerhard provides the inside threat for Iron Mountain, garnering nine points and 13 rebounds on Monday.
"Abby hustles, rebounds, cuts to the basket and plays great defense," Hogberg said. "She's really stepped up offensively and we need that to help Kaitlynn out."
Free throws and fouls helped decide the district openers Monday. Iron Mountain outscored Norway 14-2 at the free throw line and West Iron converted 16 to Stephenson's seven.
"It will be a tough physical game," said Mountaineers coach John Hogberg, impressed with how the Wykons smothered Stephenson inside during Monday's game. "They've (Wykons) been there before winning the district past two years. They have the experience and they're bigger than we are."