By BURT ANGELI
KINGSFORD - Courtney Qualley sparked a Kingsford comeback and the Flivvers outlasted Iron Mountain 45-37 in non-conference girls basketball Friday.
Theresa Proudfit/The Daily News Photos
Kingsford’s Sammy Lindeman (left) and Iron Mountain’s Marti Pirkola battle for the ball in Friday’s girls basketball rivalry.
Qualley, who tallied a game-high 23 points, netted five points late in the second quarter to give Kingsford a 16-14 halftime advantage. The junior guard continued to sizzle in the third quarter, draining 12 points and boosting the Flivver margin to as many as 11.
"Qualley did a nice job," Flivver coach Mike Cross said. "She picked up her game in that third quarter.
"She took the shots when she was open and we needed that."
Iron Mountain sliced the deficit to three points on four occasions in the fourth quarter. The last gasp came with 1:09 showing when a Marti Pirkola putback closed the gap to 40-37.
"I've seen a lot of improvement and I know it doesn't look like it," Mountaineer coach Ginger Moore said. "We struggled with that turnover category, and we struggle to convert when we rush those lay-ups.
"Take away a few of those turnovers and make lay-ups, every game would be a different story for us."
The less-than-artistic contest featured 56 turnovers - 33 by Iron Mountain.
"A holiday struggle," observed Cross, his Flivvers idle for the past 11 days. "Take that time off and that's part of it.
"It kind of looked like we were going through the motions and didn't understand what we were doing.
"But it was a holiday basketball game and you got a win, and it was a Mountaineer game besides."
Kingsford, known for its pressure defense, realized limited success despite the high Iron Mountain turnover count.
"I thought we could do a better job (with pressure) and at times we did," said Cross, his Flivvers shorthanded with seniors Hannah Tresedder (injured) and Anna Shanks (ill) out. "That's some of it with our two seniors sitting on the bench.
"But for the most part Iron Mountain handled it fairly well. We just have to do a better job of rotating."
Maria Wiltzius chipped in nine Flivver points and Amber Larson had seven.
The Mountaineer coach acknowledged Qualley's fine play but thought her young club lacked court awareness.
"When somebody's killing you, you have to know where she is on the floor," Moore said. "I see so many things that we need to fix and work on to get better. But I am seeing improvements."
Pirkola paced the Mountaineers with 12 points while Alyssa Khor and Elli McCole each netted nine. Alena Herman contributed eight rebounds and four steals.
"I'm really happy with the team and the way they continue to fight," Moore said. "They fight, stay in the game and keep their attitude up.
"We feel good about ourselves and how far we've come."
Iron Mountain, leading 10-7 after the first quarter, moved ahead 14-9 in the second. But the Mountaineers failed to score over the final five minutes while Qualley netted five points and Wiltzius had two.
The Mountaineers battled back for a 19-19 draw at 6:20 of the third quarter. A Wiltzius triple broke the tie and Qualley notched the next six for a 28-19 spread.
Kingsford's biggest lead was 34-23 at 1:21 of the third quarter. Khor netted a pair of triples over the final minutes to keep Iron Mountain in the game.
After Iron Mountain got back to 40-37, Annika Erickson hit a free throw with 56 seconds to go and Qualley hit four more.
Iron Mountain (1-6) hosts Mid-Peninsula Conference rival Norway Tuesday. Kingsford (4-4) returns to Great Northern Conference play at Escanaba Friday.
Olivia Truscott's 13 points helped Iron Mountain down Kingsford 48-31 in the junior varsity game. Mariana Bianco paced the Flivvers with 21 points.
Sydney Wickman's 15 points and Abby Tomasoski's 11 sent the Flivver freshmen past the Mountaineers.
Iron Mountain 10 4 12 11 - 37
Kingsford 7 9 18 11 - 45
IRON MOUNTAIN: Khor 9, Gendron 6, Feira 1, McCole 9, Pirkola 12. FT: 6-13. F: 18. Fouled out: Gendron (:48, 4th).
KINGSFORD: Walters 1, Jennings 2, Lindeman 2, Erickson 1, Larson 7, Wiltzius 9, Qualley 23. FT: 12-22. F: 15. Fouled out: Wiltzius (1:34, 4th).
3-point FG: Wiltzius, Qualley 4, Khor 3. FG shooting: IM 14-38, K 14 made. Rebounding: IM 35 (Herman 8, Feira 8).