GWINN - Tyler Jandron was a game-time decision Thursday night after suffering a foot injury in practice.
"He sprained his right foot and was on crutches (Wednesday)," Negaunee High School head boys basketball coach Mike O'Donnell said of his junior star guard. "We had no idea going into warmups (against Gwinn) what we were going to get from him."
What O'Donnell and the U.P. Class ABC No. 2-ranked Miners got was a game-high 28 points, five steals and two assists from Jandron in a 63-57 Mid-Peninsula Conference victory over the host Gwinn Modeltowners.
Gwinn junior Luke Sinnaeve attempts to drive past Negaunee junior Eric Lori in a Mid-Peninsula Conference contest on Thursday at Gwinn High School. (Journal photo by Craig Remsburg)
"For him to go out and handle the ball they way he did - he was all over the floor defensively and offensively ... he created some easy shots for himself and his teammates," O'Donnell said.
"I can't say what he did for us tonight. In the condition he was in, it was a very gutty performance."
Jandron took over the game in the final minute of the third quarter and first five minutes of the fourth before fouling out with 1:19 left.
He sank a pair of shots to give his team a 48-44 lead heading into the final stanza, then scored six of his team's first 10 points in the fourth for a 58-48 Negaunee advantage.
"He's a great player and able to do that," NHS senior center Brock Weaver said of his teammate after hauling in a game-high 10 rebounds to go with seven points. "He can put the team on his back."
Gwinn coach Darren Sinnaeve, whose team is now 9-4 overall and 5-3 in the M-PC, said Jandron "was the difference" in the game.
"We didn't have an answer for him," Sinnaeve said. "When he made his mind to go to the basket, it was hard to get a read on where he was going."
Outscoring the Modeltowners 21-11 in the second quarter to take a 33-21 halftime lead, the Miners saw Gwinn rally to make it a four-point game with a 23-15 surge in the third quarter.
Senior guard-forward Derek Reetz notched seven of his team-high 23 points in the stanza, while teammate and junior guard-forward Justin Nyquist added all seven of his game points.
"We attacked the basket more and Reetz had a heckuva game," Sinnaeve said, noting his team had won 10 straight home games dating back to last season before the loss Thursday night.
"We just couldn't get over the hump."
Weaver said the Miners (12-1, 7-0) couldn't sustain their solid first-half play in the third quarter.
"Gwinn just got some momentum," he said. "It wasn't one of our best games, but when we did play well, we moved the ball around."
After trailing 58-48 with 3:10 remaining, Gwinn got to within 58-54 when Reetz hit a 3-point shot and a jumper, and teammate Justin Beauchamp sank a free throw.
But the Miners countered with a pair of free throws by senior forward Tanner Uren, and single charity stripe tosses by senior guard Andrew Katona and junior guard Eric Lori to make it 62-54 with 38 seconds left. Lori finished with 12 points.
"Gwinn battled, but this (game) was good for us," O'Donnell said. "It was a tourney atmosphere.
"We didn't shoot free throws well, though. We were 18 of 34 (for 52.9 percent) and normally make 70 percent. We have to do better at the free throw line as a team."
Negaunee won the JV game, 38-28.
Craig Remsburg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 251.