Good luck to the Mountaineers in their state title run

It’s likely much of Iron Mountain will come to a screeching halt about 3:30 p.m. Saturday, in a way the area perhaps hasn’t seen since the Green Bay Packers won their last Super Bowl in 2011.

The Mountaineers boys basketball team will tip off at that time against another 27-0 team, Pewamo-Westphalia, for the MHSAA Division 3 state championship. Iron Mountain hasn’t been in this kind of rarified air since winning it all in 1939.

As with that title long ago, many likely will follow the action by radio. It’s unclear whether the game will be broadcast live, though it can be viewed through streaming video online.

Sure, the world and nation have far more serious issues than high school basketball, even when a title is on the line.

Which is exactly why it’s worth being excited — and rooting hard — for Iron Mountain, even if from Norway or Kingsford or North Dickinson, or the Upper Peninsula at large.

We always can use distractions from the host of negative elements life makes us deal with every day. Win or lose, having the Mountaineers in the state finals is a warm, fuzzy success story worth enjoying, just as North Central’s and Forest Park’s championship runs were in recent seasons.

It’s a rare opportunity as well for those of us who are not athletically inclined to live vicariously, basking in the performance of young people from our community.

It seems fitting as well that Iron Mountain won Thursday in East Lansing, home of Michigan State University. Breslin Center is, after all, Iron Mountain native Tom Izzo’s house. He’s ruled there since 1995.

And he was on hand Wednesday to give the team a tour of the Spartans’ facility and spend about 90 minutes with the players. The Mountaineers also sat in on a Spartans practice Thursday morning before MSU headed to Chicago to play today in the Big Ten tournament, where they are the top seed.

Just mingling with another Mountaineer and Iron Mountain favorite son who forged success in basketball must have been a boost to the team.

“Coach Izzo told us ‘Some people like it, some people love it and some people live it,'” Iron Mountain key player Marcus Johnson said of the team’s time with Izzo. “We want to live it. It’s just an awesome feeling to get to the championship and hopefully we can bring it home.”

So savor and cheer Iron Mountain on Saturday. Be ready to welcome them back with congratulations and thanks for the effort, no matter what the outcome of the game.

The team, after all, again has reminded the rest of the state not to underestimate the talent in the Upper Peninsula.

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