L'ANSE - Wednesday, the Ironwood Red Devils escaped to safety and Friday's Class C district final not on the back of star Adam Mackey, or their three-point shooting or their big men.
Reserve forward Matt Weber, a 5-foot-11 junior, knocked down the decisive jumper from the right side with five seconds left and it held up for a 42-40 Red Devil victory.
"We survived, that's all there was to it," Ironwood coach Pete Lewinski said.
L’Anse’s Jacob Ostermeyer attempts a reverse lay-up against three Ironwood defenders during the closing minutes of Wednesday’s Class C?district semifinal. (DMG photo by Brandon Veale)
The Red Devils, the No. 3-ranked Class ABC team in the U.P., scored just four points in the fourth quarter and 11 in the second half against a L'Anse team that fell behind 14-1 after barely five minutes. The Hornets hung tough, however, making a second rally from 13 down in the third quarter to tie it on Daniel Perrow's free throw with 22.8 seconds left.
Perrow missed the back end of the one-and-one and Weber pulled down the board. After a timeout, Ironwood drew up the play. Bryant Rowe gained the baseline on a backdoor cut and hit Weber for the jumper.
"It just broke down but Rowe had the presence of mind to hit Matt Weber, who came off the bench. I think they key on that shot was Matt didn't hesitate. He didn't think, he just shot it and fortunately for us, it went in," Lewinski said.
Ironwood 18 13 7 4 - 42
L'Anse 10 10 12 8 - 40
Ironwood - Denver Sharrow 9, Adam Mackey 14, Matt Weber 2, Jon Erickson 2, Bryant Rowe 11, Jacob DiGiorgio 4; FT: 3-6; Fouls: 14; Fouled out: DiGiorgio; 3-point field goals: Sharrow 3, Rowe 3, Mackey 1.
L'Anse - Daniel Perrow 8, Jonny Magaraggia 3, Joey Hansen 2, Jacob Ostermeyer 16, Keith Denomie 7, Logan Roe 3, Raymond Miron 1; FT: 9-16; Fouls: 10; Fouled out: none; 3-point field goals: Perrow 1, Ostermeyer 1, Denomie 2, Roe 1.
On the other end, Keith Denomie's prayer from just inside the halfcourt line was short and wide
nd the Red Devils (18-3) advanced to a district final Friday against Houghton.
"Their kid hit a big shot in a big moment. That was the ballgame. I was proud of how our kids battled back. We got down early and had to fight back the whole game. At the end, they made a shot," L'Anse coach Mike Ostermeyer said.
More impressive (or concerning) for Ironwood was that they held off the Hornet rally with Mackey severely hobbled by a foot injury he suffered midway through the fourth quarter.
The All-U.P. junior scored a modest 14 points in the face of heavy defensive attention, particularly from Hornet junior Jonny Magaraggia.
Modest described much of Ironwood's offensive production. After Denver Sharrow's three treys in a 2 1/2 minute span of the first quarter, he never scored again. Rowe had three triples in the second quarter but just two points after and the inside game was hampered by foul trouble for sophomore center Jacob DiGiorgio.
L'Anse got an impressive night from coach's son Jacob Ostermeyer. His 13 first-half points kept the hosts in the game and he finished with a game-high 16.
"I thought he was excellent all night. He really attacked, had good shot selection and passed to open teammates when they doubled," coach Ostermeyer said.