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Mountaineers too much for Jeffers in regional semis, 71-50

Jeffers’ Johnny Schutz (24) drives to the basket while being defended by Iron Mountain’s Foster Wonders (00) Tuesday in a MHSAA Division 3 Region 27 semifinal in Gladstone. (Matt McCarthy/Iron Mountain Daily News)

GLADSTONE — A fast and effective start in a basketball game, can often times overwhelm the opposition.

That’s exactly what happened Tuesday night, as Iron Mountain built a 20 point lead by halftime en route to a 71-50 win against Jeffers, 71-50 in a MHSAA Division 3 Region 17 semifinal at Gladstone High School.

The Mountaineers play Oscoda (20-0) at 7 p.m. Thursday for the MHSAA Region 17 championship. Oscoda beat Charlevoix 60-55 Tuesday in the other semifinal.

Seniors Foster Wonders scored a game-high 34 points, and Bryce Pietrantonio had 15 points to lead the Mountaineers.

Johnny Schutz led the Jets (18-2) with 21 points, while teammate Christian Hocking scored 17 points in the loss.

Right from the get go, Iron Mountain was pushing the tempo, and getting a good shot selection. Within the first 2:22 of the game, the Mountaineers led 9-0 and Jets head coach John Schutz called a timeout.

“Our first half, and first quarter especially, it was ugly,” Schutz said. “Iron Mountain is definitely as good as advertised. They’re strong, they’re physical and of course they have Foster Wonders. Players like him don’t come around very often.”

The Mountaineers (16-0) switched between a three-quarter and halfcourt press, which was giving Jeffers trouble and causing them to turn the ball over. The Jets didn’t score until the five-minute mark of the first quarter.

“We got off to a good start tonight, we felt we could pressure them a little bit as we didn’t think they had seen that type of pressure so far this year,” said Iron Mountain head coach Bucky Johnson. “Mixing things up the way we did seemed to throw them for a loop to start off.”

Another aspect of the Mountaineers game on the night was how effective their passing was.

“Our inside passing was great tonight, we made some nice passes to open players,” Johnson said. “It was a great overall night and a great victory, in a regional semifinal game.”

The pace of the game slowed as the game wore on, especially with the large lead the Mountaineers continue to have throughout the contest. IM had a 22-point lead at halftime and also at the end of the third quarter.

Throughout the game, Iron Mountain was very strong rebounding the basketball. Both coaches concurred with that, with Schutz noting the was a huge difference in the game.

“Hats off to those guys. We don’t play teams like them in the Copper Country,” Schutz said of Iron Mountain. “They out worked us and out rebounded us the whole game, and that’s what killed us. We wish them the best of luck.”

The Jets played mainly man defense. It was the Mountaineers’ athleticism and offensive efficiency that Jeffers simply couldn’t keep up with.

“Our defense was very active tonight, we got several steals, and we cut off some passes for turnovers as well,” Johnson said. “It was a great overall performance.”

IMHS 22 17 15 17 — 71

JHS 8 9 15 18 — 50

IRON MOUNTAIN (71): Wonders 34, Brown 8, Pietrantonio 15, Evosevich-Hynes 4, Kleiman 6, Basanese 2, Dumais 2. FT 3-4. F: 13. 3-point FG: Wonders 6, Brown 2. Rebounds: 36 (Wonders 7, Kleiman 7). Steals: 9 (Evosevich-Hynes 3, Pietrantonio 3).

JEFFERS (50): Frahm 4, Kunishge 3, J. Schutz 21, Mattila 5, Hocking 17. FT: 7-10. F: 9. 3-point FG: Kunishge, Schutz 3, Hocking 1.

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