Boys basketball: Mountaineers ease past Miners

Negaunee's Jacob Ennett (12) drives on Iron Mountain's Jaden Vicenzi (42) in Tuesday's Mid-Peninsula Conference game. (Burt Angeli/The Daily News)

IRON MOUNTAIN — Iron Mountain stormed past Negaunee and into the postseason Tuesday.

The once-beaten Mountaineers, running out to a double-digit lead in the first quarter and scoring 18 unanswered points in the second quarter, subdued Negaunee 71-40 in Mid-Peninsula Conference boys basketball.

“The kids were focused and played great right out of the get-go,” Mountaineers coach Bucky Johnson said after the regular season finale for both teams. “It was a really, really great victory and a good way to go into the tournament.”

Freshman Foster Wonders, who netted four of the Mountaineers’ 11 triples, scored a game-high 22 points.

Iron Mountain, which has secured the MPC title, rolled into halftime with a 36-8 cushion.

“We didn’t show up, we didn’t compete in the first half,” said Negaunee Coach Dan Waterman. “We were scared of them for whatever reason. They put it on us quick and they put it on us hard. They kept their foot on the gas pedal the entire game. That’s a good team over there but our tentativeness, our passiveness kind of made them even better that what they already are. They don’t need the help. We need to play harder.”

Junior Jaden Vicenzi tacked on 13 points. Junior Charlie Gerhard had 10 points and 10 of the Mountaineers’ 24 rebounds. Sophomore guard Marcus Johnson had 10 points with 11 assists.

Iron Mountain (19-1, 9-1) connected on 28 of 48 field goals for a 58 percent shooting mark. Assists were credited on 24 of the 28 buckets.

“That’s impressive,” Johnson said of the assists to field goals. “That was the best Marcus has distributed the ball all year. They were focusing on trying to stop him, and he was able to find the open guy and those guys knocked down shots.”

When the Mountaineers weren’t hitting from the outside, they were crashing inside. That was a concern for Waterman on Tuesday and looking ahead to the Class C district opener Wednesday with Westwood.

“Getting bodies in the paint,” Waterman said of Negaunee’s tournament focus. “Iron Mountain beat us up inside and that’s Westwood’s MO. They shot the fewest 3-pointers of any team in the conference.”

Sophomore Jason Waterman led the Miners (8-12, 6-6) with 19 points. The coach did come away with a “small moral victory” when his team outscored the Mountaineers 16-12 in the third quarter.

“We came out and competed better in the second half,” Waterman said. “We went after them a little bit better but too little, too late.”

Noted the Mountaineers coach of the Miners starting the third quarter with six straight points: “Waterman got in there and scored some tough baskets. They weren’t easy shots. I can guarantee you that.”

The Mountaineers posted five steals and maintained their season single-digit turnover average with four.

“Our (man) defense was fantastic,” Johnson said. “We ran the floor and the kids rebounded the ball. Everybody got to play and it was nice to see those seniors who don’t get much playing time out there.

“It was just a fun night and all of the kids played great.”

Iron Mountain hosts Norway on Wednesday to begin Class C District 94 play.

All three of Iron Mountain’s teams won MPC championships. The junior varsity closed out the season by beating Negaunee 54-44 and the freshmen prevailed 64-44. Gio Basanese led the jayvees with 17 points while Colin Visintainer added 14 and Jake Dumais had 10.

Negaunee 6 2 16 16 — 40

Iron Mountain 18 18 12 23 — 71

NEGAUNEE (40): Sager 4, Ennett 4, Waterman 19, Skewis 2, Mattson 2, Hill 5, Kumpula 2, Dupont 2. FT: 6-6. F: 9 3PT: Waterman, Hill.

IRON MOUNTAIN (71): Johnson 10, Wonders 22, Vicenzi 13, Gerhard 12, Feira 4, Tucker 3, Celello 3, Geronimi 1, Diercks 3. FT: 4-6. F: 10. 3PT: Johnson, Wonders 4, Vicenzi 3, Tucker, Celello, Diercks. FG: 28-48. Rebounds: 24 (Gerhard 10).