Boys Basketball: IM comes back from 14-point deficit to beat Norway, 48-40

Norway outscored 17-0 in third quarter

Iron Mountain's Jacob Tucker (30) celebrates with teammates Charlie Gerhard (44) and Marcus Johnson after Johnson was fouled by Norway on Friday, Dec. 15, 2017, in Iron Mountain, Mich. (Adam Niemi/Iron Mountain Daily News)

IRON MOUNTAIN — With a stretch of clutch free-throw shooting and buckets, Iron Mountain survived Norway 48-40 in a non-conference game Friday.

In a packed gym with a tournament atmosphere, the Mountaineers (4-0) overcame a 14-point deficit late in the second quarter to hold Norway scoreless in the third quarter en route to the win.

“It was kind of a tale of two halves. We didn’t play well in the first half, credit Norway for that,” Iron Mountain head coach Bucky Johnson said. “They got seniors out there on the court, physical kids, strong kids, competitive kids. We didn’t really execute. What turned the tide for us in the second half was we got our running game going. We got some pressure on them.”

Iron Mountain outscored the Knights (1-1) 17-0 in the third quarter after Norway held a 26-18 halftime advantage. The Mountaineers had a 35-26 lead going into the fourth quarter.

Norway battled back.

Scoring their first bucket of the second half about a minute into the fourth, the Knights made it 41-40 with two minutes left.

Marcus Johnson was fouled and hit one of two free throws and Charlie Gerhard followed with a bucket on a turnover to make it 44-40.

Johnson went to the line twice after that and made all four of his free throws to seal the win. He finished with 23 points and was 6 of 9 on free throws for the night, including 6 of 8 in the fourth quarter.

Gerhard finished with nine points and 10 rebounds.

“We started off really good, had a great first half. The kids battled,” Norway head coach Jeff Gallino said. “For whatever reason, we got extremely cold and made some poor, poor decisions in the third quarter. Fundamental things, too much dribbling, things that we’ll have to clean up. Too many forced shots.”

Jordan Reich and Connor Ortman led the Knights in stifling Iron Mountain in the first half. Ortman had 10 points and Reich had 8 points. Norway built a 22-8 lead by keeping Iron Mountain to the outside. The Mountaineers settled for outside shots, of which they made few — they were 8 of 20 in the first half. Johnson was 2 of 12, including 1 of 7 from long range.

Iron Mountain figured out Norway’s offense during halftime, while the offensive focus became getting to the basket. The result was a momentous run in which Iron Mountain rallied to within three points less than three minutes into the second half. Johnson drilled a 3-pointer to tie the game with 4:55 left in the third quarter.

“Once we got the momentum going, you can see what these guys do when they get the momentum. Games like that are played in spurts,” Coach Johnson said. “Norway had a spurt in the first half where Reich was getting inside by the basket. We did it in the second half. It was fun to watch. It was a competitive game. Obviously we’re going to see Norway again. I’m just proud of my team because it was a hard-fought victory.”

Johnson said Norway’s dribble-drive worked in the first half, but realized when the Knights called “Memphis,” it brought two guards to the top in isolation to try opening lanes to the basket.

“We were expecting that, just not out of that set,” Johnson said. “I thought we did a little bit better job keeping them in front of us and basically when you hold a team 17-0, you have to be doing some things right. I know they missed some shots that maybe were falling in the first half.”

Gallino said it seemed like his team also panicked into poor decisions as the Mountaineers made their third-quarter run.

“We’re kind of a running team and we have a hard time slowing down and executing our halfcourt at times tonight,” Gallino said. “Iron Mountain is a tough place to play and they have a really nice ball club over there.”

Iron Mountain’s Tony Feira fouled out with 5:20 to go in the game. Norway’s Josh Plante fouled out with 47.7 seconds left.

Mountaineers’ Jacob Tucker left the game in the second half with a knee injury. He sat on the Mountaineers’ bench for the remainder of the game with a pack of ice on his knee.

Iron Mountain JV won 44-31.

The Mountaineers play at Gladstone on Tuesday. Norway hosts Bark River-Harris on Monday.

Norway 13 13 0 14 — 40

Iron Mountain 8 10 17 13 — 48

NORWAY (40): Reich 19, Ortman 10, Wilson 9, Plante 2. FT: 5-8. F: 16 (Plante fouled out). FG: 20-43. 3PT: 5-14 (Wilson 3, Ortman 1, Reich 1). Rebounds: 19 (Ortman 9). Assists: 10 (Plante 8). Steals: 4 (Plante 2).

IRON MOUNTAIN (48): Johnson 23, Gerhard 9, Vicenzi 6, Feira 6, Tucker 4. FT: 9-15. F: 15 (Feira fouled out). FG: 17-44. 3PT: 5-19 (Johnson 3, Vicenzi 1, Tucker 1). Rebounds: 20 (Gerhard 10). Assists: 6 (Vicenzi 3). Steals: 8.