IM cruises in Esky showdown
ESCANABA — So much for that showdown between top-ranked Iron Mountain and No. 2 Escanaba.
The Mountaineers brought their young, athletic, shooting boys’ basketball show to town and cruised to an easy 74-48 win Tuesday against the Eskymos.
Marcus Johnson scored 31 points and Iron Mountain never let up after a fast start to stay unbeaten at 14-0.
“I thought a big key to the game was getting off to the start the kids got off to,” said IM coach Harvey “Bucky” Johnson, whose team is ranked No. 1 in the U.P. and No. 3 in the AP Class C state poll. “We talked about that. We didn’t want to come in here and be lackadaisical, not move the ball, not share the ball. The kids did a good job at the beginning of the game.
“We thought with Escanaba’s zone, we have some guys who can shoot from the perimeter. The shots were going in tonight and they were finding one another.”
The Mountaineers rolled to a 22-8 first-quarter lead and 42-20 halftime margin. They made eight of their 10 3-pointers in the first half and connected on 10-of-22 from behind the arc.
Marcus Johnson, the sophomore guard, drilled five treys on his way to another impressive night that included six rebounds and four assists.
Freshman Foster Wonders followed with 21 points and six rebounds, while Jaden Vicenzi was cited by Coach Johnson for solid defense in helping to limit potent Esky point guard Ryan Robinette to a season-low seven points.
Tony Feira also grabbed a team-high eight rebounds for Iron Mountain after not practicing for two days due to illness.
Junior guard Craig Kamin led the Eskymos (12-2) with 10 points and Robinette collected six steals.
Overall, the Mountaineers seized the showdown moment while snapping Esky’s eight-game winning streak.
“I know we’re ranked, but these kids are taking it one game at a time,” Coach Johnson said. “We want them to enjoy the moment. Don’t look ahead. Don’t look to tomorrow. Just enjoy today. I thought they enjoyed it today obviously the way they played. They were ready. They were prepared. I thought we did a pretty good job defensively against them.”
The Mountaineers shot 56 percent from the field and had little trouble handling Esky’s changing defenses (1-3-1, 2-3 and man-to-man).
Escanaba, meanwhile, was out-rebounded 32-21 and shot 31 percent from the field including 2-of-19 from 3-point range.
“They just executed from the very first quarter,” Esky coach Tracy Hudson said. “They got the first loose ball. It seemed like they were a step quicker than us tonight. We really extended our zone and they really lit our zone up early with deep threes.
“We got beat by a good team. We didn’t have the poise we needed. And we kind of let the game get away, but I thought our kids played hard to the very end.”
Peyton Fedell also scored seven points and 6-foot-6 freshman Carter Hudson came off the bench to contribute six points and a team-high five rebounds.
Esky played Iron Mountain even in the second half, but the damage was already done.
“I was happy with the energy level, but it was like we were almost too anxious to play the game,” Tracy Hudson said. “We didn’t shoot well in the first half and it seemed like they hit everything.
“I think our team will get better and better. This is a learning experience for us. We ran into a buzz saw tonight. We ran into a very good team and we were off offensively. They made some big momentum plays.”
Esky visits Marquette Thursday in a key Great Northern Conference contest and Iron Mountain travels to Norway Friday.
The Esky freshmen and jayvee teams also stayed unbeaten with wins against Iron Mountain by scores of 62-49 and 57-53, respectively.
Iron Mountain 22 20 16 16 — 74
Escanaba 8 12 16 12 — 48
Iron Mountain — Wonders 21, Caudell 2, Johnson 31, Cellelo 3, Feira 4, Vicenzi 5, Gerhard 8. FT: 8-9; F: 12; Fouled out: none; 3-point field goals: Wonders 3, Johnson 5, Cellelo 3, Feira 4, Vicenzi 5, Gerhard 8.
Escanaba — Robinette 7, LaMarche 2, Fedell 7, Kamin 10, Willis 4, Thompson 2, Rose 3, Nash 3, Willette 4, Hudson 6. FT: 8-11; F: 12; Fouled out: none; 3-point field goals: Robinette, Rose.