by Scott DCamp
Influenza kept four Northland men’s basketball players from making the long trek east to the Iron Range communities of Ely and Virginia but it didn’t keep Northland out of the win column.
The Pioneers picked up an 85-69 win at Vermilion Friday night and concluded the trip with an 80-63 win at Mesabi Range Saturday afternoon.
“It is one of our toughest road trips each year,” said Head Coach Rick Nikunen. “To go on the road and get two wins is big. Vermilion was sitting atop the division by themselves.
Northland used an 11-point second half advantage to pull away from the previously unbeaten Ironmen Friday night. The Pioneers were led by 26 points from Ju’Wan Evans and 20 points off the bench by Z’mari Minter.”
Nikunen said that playing with only two reserves presented some challenges but the actual adjustments were minimal.
“We still do what we do but you have to use your timeouts more carefully and be smarter with fouling,” Nikunen said. “The seven guys played really hard and played smart.”
Saturday, the Pioneers continued their winning ways with a 17-point win against the Norsemen. Evans scored over 20 points for the second consecutive game, with Chedonio Martin scoring 16 points and six rebounds; Brandon Murat adding 15 points and seven rebounds; and Kameron Parker scoring 10 points, while grabbing nine boards.
1 2 T
Northland 41 44 85
Vermilion 36 33 69
Northland – Chedonio Martin 10, Brandon Murat 15, Ju’Wan Evans 26, Kameron Parker 14, Z’mari Minter 20.
Vermilion – Denario Jackson 16, Marquail Johnson 3, Noel Mshihiri 2, Bradlee Lewis 12, Demetrice Mitchell 24, Deshawn Lawson 8, Devontaye Spates 4.
1 2 T
Northland 35 45 80
Mesabi Range 28 35 63
Northland – Chedonio Martin 16, Brandon Murat 15, Ju’Wan Evans 24, Kameron Parker 10, Ashanti Cage 8, Z’mari Minter 6, Dominique Truitt 1
Mesabi Range – Drew Aho 1, Dorian Nesmith 22, Bryce Hempel 14, Calvin Lee 13, Demitri Dennis 4, Alban Cooke 5, Lorenzo Wells 2, Deurlo Champagne 2.