Ironhawks score DQ Classic sweep
A dramatic second-half surge lifted the Vermilion Ironhawks to a sweep in the annual DQ Grill and Chill Classic.
Fueled by tournament MVP C.J. Brown, Vermilion outscored Itasca 51-21 in the second half and rallied to beat the Vikings 78-59 in community college basketball action last Saturday in Ely.
It was Vermilion’s second straight win in the annual home tournament, and followed a 63-54 opening night victory over Gogebic.
Brown, a sophomore from Minneapolis North, was the first winner of the DQ Paulie Outstanding Player Award, established this season in memory of longtime tournament sponsor, the late Paul Ivancich.
Brown caught fire against Itasca, scoring a game-high 30 points on an 11-for-15 shooting performance. He added five steals, three rebounds and two assists and helped Vermilion turn things around in the second stanza.
Itasca led 38-27 at the half but was held to only 21 second-half points.
Vermilion center Sammy Russ added 10 points and four rebounds while Jordan Samuelsson finished with 10 points for the Ironhawks.
Rondai Banks came off the bench and had a solid outing, finishing with eight points and four rebounds, and teammates Brian Ritchie and J’Sean Banks added six points each.
Jerome Washington had a team-high 24 points for Itasca.
In the opener, the second half belonged to Vermilion as it knocked down key free throws down the stretch to prevail by nine.
Gogebic cut a nine-point deficit to two at 55-53 with 1:30 to go, but a layup by Banks and two free throws by Ronald Ducros helped seal the win.
Brown scored 12 of his team-high 16 points in the second half, while both Ritchie (10 points) and Samuelsson (10) hit double digits for the winners.
RaShawn Wilcos added eight points and eight rebounds for Vermilion and Russ wound up with eight points and three rebounds. Banks contributed seven points.
Vermilion was a proficient nine-for-18 from three-point distance with six different Ironhawks hitting long-range bombs.
Trevon Clark paced Gogebic with 12 points and Yohance London netted 11.
Vermilion and Gogebic have a rematch scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday in the opening round of Gogebic’s Lindquist Classic at Ironwood, Mich.
The Ironhawks are also in action there Sunday and turn their attention to Minnesota College Athletic Conference foes next weekend with a road trip to Fergus Falls and St. Cloud.
• Gogebic went 2-0 to win the women’s tournament, with Bay College (1-1), Rainy River (1-1) and Itasca (0-2) also participating.
Gogebic’s Jasmine Redhouse scored 34 points, with 17 rebounds, 11 assists and eight steals to earn the DQ Paulie Outstanding Player Award for the women’s tournament.