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Iron Mountain spills Schoolcraft in OT for D3 finals berth

EAST LANSING — Iron Mountain prevailed in a 54-50 overtime win against Schoolcraft to reach the MHSAA Division 3 state championship.

The Mountaineers (19-0), will face Flint Beecher (15-1) at 3 p.m. Saturday.

Iron Mountain senior Foster Wonders led all scorers with 36 points, with 14 of them in the fourth quarter.

“I think today was a heck of a game. Both teams played really hard,” said Mountaineers head coach Bucky Johnson. “Schoolcraft is well coached and they were well prepared. We got outrebounded today and give them credit for that, but we did rebound the ball better in the second half. I am very happy with our free throw shooting in the overtime.”

Schoolcraft came out in a zone defense, which was very effective throughout the game. The Eagles had several players with height and size on their roster, which enabled them to match the physicality of the Mountaineers. 

“They’re all big guys. They made it hard for us to do anything,” Wonders said. “Even their guards were physical and played bigger than they actually are.”

Early in the fourth quarter, Schoolcraft (19-2) extended their lead to eight points, their largest of the basketball game. The Eagles led for 13:41 of the contest, while the Mountaineers led for 19:21.

The Mountaineers continued to fight back, towards regaining the lead as the final quarter wore on, and retook the lead, 40-38 when Wonders drained a trey with 2:10 remaining. On their next three touches of the basketball, Schoolcraft failed to convert on any scoring opportunities. 

A key moment in the game, was in a half court possession after breaking the Eagles press,  Pietrantonio used his keen knack for seeing the floor and anticipating defenders, to draw double coverage and bounce passing to a wide open Jurgen Kleiman who laid it up and in to give IM a 42-38 lead late in the fourth quarter.

With 27 seconds remaining in regulation, Schoolcraft’s Jonathan Able tied the game at 42 apiece with a layup, giving the Mountaineers one more opportunity to win the game in regulation. After a timeout, Iron Mountain was pressured on the perimeter by the Eagles defense, with two defenders draped on Wonders. 

Jurgen Kleiman got open for a baseline jump shot, but failed to convert, sending the game into overtime. 

Due to COVID-19 protocols, the MHSAA requires a coin flip be conducted by the head referee, in order to determine who possesses the basketball first.

The Mountaineers won that coin toss, and 12 seconds into the overtime period, a Kleiman layup after another key pass from Pietrantonio, gave the Mountaineers a lead they would never relinquish. In fact, IM’s largest lead of the contest was seven points at the 2:03 mark of the overtime. 

It’s Iron Mountain’s first appearance in the state finals since a controversial 2019 loss to Pewamo-Westphalia. IM was whistled for a travel and subsequent intentional foul in the closing seconds, and Pewamo-Westphalia made two free throws for the lead and ran out the clock.

IMHS 11 7 6 18 12 — 54

SHS 7 10 13 12 8 — 50

IRON MOUNTAIN (54): Evosevich-Hynes 7, Brown 7, Wonders 34, Kleiman 6. FT: 9-17. F: 16. Fouled Out: None. 3-point FG: Evosevich-Hynes, Brown 2, Wonders 4. Rebounds 30, Wonders 8. FG Shooting: 19-47. 

SCHOOLCRAFT (50): Able 2, DeGroote 6, S. Rykse 14, T. Rykse 11, B. VanderWiere, 15, Puhalski 2. FT: 8-11. F: 14. Fouled Out: None. 3-point FG: T. Rykse 2. Rebounds: 36, VanderWiere 10. FG Shooting: 20-53. 

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