Boys basketball: Iron Mountain outlasts Norway, 50-47

Norway’s Connor Ortman, center, puts up a shot as Iron Mountain’s Charlie Gerhard (44), Foster Wonders (00) and Tony Feira (32) defend during a Class C District 94 game on Wednesday, March 7, 2018, in Iron Mountain, Mich. (Adam Niemi/Iron Mountain Daily News)

IRON MOUNTAIN — Iron Mountain held off upset-minded Norway 50-47 in a Class C District 94 semifinal on Wednesday.

Norway’s Connor Ortman put up a would-be game-tying 3-pointer in the closing seconds, but it bounced off the rim.

The Mountaineers (20-1) and Knights (12-9) traded slim leads in the final minutes. Iron Mountain went to the line with intentional fouls in the fourth quarter, making 5 of 7.

Iron Mountain hosts West Iron County on at 6 p.m. Friday for the district championship.

Iron Mountain’s Marcus Johnson had 17 points and Foster Wonders chipped in 12. Johnson also had six rebounds, three assists and four steals. Jaden Vicenzi finished with four points, two rebounds and three assists.

“I thought (Marcus) played tough, but some other guys really stepped up for us tonight. I challenged them at halftime. I told them ‘you guys are going to have to do something in the second half,'” Iron Mountain head coach Bucky Johnson said. “Tony’s shots from the corner were critical. Jaden’s free throws, Foster’s big 3 right in the corner. Everybody did something. Charlie had a heck of a matchup with Ortman. He’s an All-UP player, so he’s good. Just a hard fought game. Marcus played tough but so did everybody else when we needed them.”

Iron Mountain was 9 of 13 from the line on the night.

Ortman led the Knights with 19 points in his final high school game.

“We got a lot of seniors over on our side. They gave a heck of an effort. They battled down to the last shot,” Norway head coach Jeff Gallino said. “We had a chance and just came up a little bit short. Can’t fault the effort — it was there all night. It could’ve went either way. They hit some shots late. We had a couple that didn’t fall late and that’s basketball, that’s the way it goes sometimes.”

The Knights sagged off Iron Mountain sophomore Tony Feira throughout the game. He knocked down four 12-footers from the left baseline, including two in the fourth quarter. Feira finished the game with nine points.

“If you noticed in the first half, they weren’t guarding Tony at all. They had Ortman sitting in the lane so we were like Tony, we’ve got to get the ball to Tony,” Johnson said. “That’s his favorite shot. He was able to make it. I’m proud of him for that because he had a couple errant passes. We talked about them in the huddle. He dropped them. The Fireman, nine points — huge.”

Norway led by a point with about a minute left and Johnson drove for two points, followed by a steal from Wonders, who was fouled on a layup. He made both free throws to give the Mountaineers a 48-45 lead and 50 seconds remaining

Shortly after, Ortman received a pass in the post, spinning around a defender and putting up a left-handed layup to bring Norway within a point. A shot by Josh Plante was too strong and Vicenzi grabbed the rebound, who then knocked down both free throws with 7.6 seconds to go.

Coach Johnson said he was pleased with his team’s defensive rotations throughout the night.

“We got better at it in the second half. We let Ortman get to the basket, he’s pretty good at getting in there. He likes to go right, we know that,” Johnson said. “He’s slippery and he’s crafty. It was just a possession by possession game. What else would you expect? We were able to do enough to win. I’m just proud of all the guys. It was a tough one. I’m happy.”

Norway fell into foul trouble when Micah Wilson picked up his second foul in the first quarter and then his fourth in the fourth quarter. Josh Plante picked up his third in the fourth.

“Micah’s a good defender. We had him out there on Foster,” Gallino said. “We had to pull him in the first half and late in the game for a couple minutes. That changed the complexion a little bit but the kid that came in there battles just as hard.”

Gallino said he liked his team’s ability to stay patient and respond to Iron Mountain’s scoring throughout the game.

“When they came down and scored a basket, I thought we were able to execute better, be patient and move it around a little bit, set some better screens and get an easy look compared to a shot out of transition,” Gallino said. “We had guys in the lane all night. I thought the big guys’ help defense was on point. Kody did a nice job rebounding, Connor and Boulden. We secured the ball so we could get out and start our offense.”

Norway 12 11 10 14 — 47

Iron Mountain 17 7 12 14 — 50

NORWAY (47): Ortman 19, Wilson 13, Plante 11, Hendricks 4. FT: 6-8. F: 12. 3PT: Wilson 3, Plante 2.

IRON MOUNTAIN (50): Johnson 17, Wonders 12, Vicenzi 4, Gerhard 8, Feira 9. FT: 9-13. F: 11. FG: 18-46. 3PT: 5-19 (Johnson 3, Wonders 2). Rebounds: 20 (Johnson 6, Wonders 6).