Boys basketball: IM eases past Gwinn, 76-37

Iron Mountain’s Marcus Johnson drives to the basket against Gwinn on Friday, Feb. 8, 2019, in Iron Mountain, Mich. (Adam Niemi/Iron Mountain Daily News)

IRON MOUNTAIN — Iron Mountain settled into its prolific offense early and cruised to a 76-37 win over Gwinn to clinch the Mid-Peninsula Conference on Friday.

The Mountaineers (15-0) were led by Foster Wonders’ 27 points while Marcus Johnson had a double-double with 20 points and 11 assists, along with five steals.

“Our goal was to win the game. By doing that, I think we clinched the Mid-Pen Conference,” Iron Mountain head coach Bucky Johnson said. “We have a couple games left and everybody close to us has three losses. That’s always our goal. It’s a goal in the season. It’s not an easy one to get. Back to back years for these guys so I’m proud of that.”

Mastin Love and Austin Forbes led Gwinn with eight and seven points, respectively.

The Modeltowners (5-10) worked to open lanes and kick-out options, but a lack of execution stalled scoring opportunities throughout.

“That’s not exactly where it was supposed to be of course,” Gwinn head coach Jim Finkbeiner said of the ball being passed around the 3-point line. “That was part of our problem because we weren’t doing the things we were supposed to be doing.

“What we tried to do is using Tucker or another player, when we’re making good cuts, it frees up guys and if it doesn’t, Tucker’s free. We can get him in open space and of course he garners a lot of attention once that ball is in his hands. That frees up guys for lanes to the basket or spot-up shots.”

The Mountaineers jumped all over Gwinn’s lack of offensive execution by converting their chances on the other end. Iron Mountain shot 31 of 56 on the night including 8 of 17 from long range.

But the other key was Iron Mountain’s defensive performance, doubling Gwinn’s offensive execution struggles by switching off effectively on defense, breaking up passes and rebounding. The Mountaineers had 14 steals including five from Johnson.

“We always like to try to dictate the game with our defense,” Coach Johnson said. “I thought at times we were able to do that. At times we were running all over the place because they were really patient and spreading the floor. It was a good night overall.”

Iron Mountain went on a run in the second quarter, outscoring Gwinn 18-7 for a 38-19 halftime lead.

Finkbeiner said Iron Mountain’s supportive cast around Wonders and Johnson, including Jaden Vicenzi (10 points), Charlie Gerhard (seven points) and the bench put even more pressure on the Modeltowners’ defense.

“When those complementary guys hit shots, now we have to get away from just guarding two guys,” Finkbeiner said. “They do a really good job of it. They pass the ball really nice. They were very unselfish getting guys easy looks for layups.”

Iron Mountain kept the pedal to the metal in the third quarter, outscoring Gwinn 23-8. The Mountaineers’ starters exited the game about halfway through the fourth.

Johnson said another key was holding Gwinn’s Tucker Taylor to just six points.

“I thought we did a nice job on him,” Johnson said. “They were being patient offensively. I think they were trying to shorten the game as far as our offensive possessions.”

Iron Mountain JV won 49-25.

The Mountaineers host rival Kingsford on Tuesday, while Gwinn hosts Manistique.

Gwinn 12 7 8 10 — 37

Iron Mountain 20 18 23 15 — 76

GWINN (37): Love 8, Forbes 7, Harnick 6, Laurich 6, Taylor 6, Duvall 2, Smith 2. FT: 2-4. F: 10. 3PT: Love 2, Harnick 2, Forbes 1.

IRON MOUNTAIN (76): Wonders 27, Johnson 20, Vicenzi 10, Gerhard 7, Dumais 6, Feira 2, Caudell 2, Basanese 2. FT: 6-13. F: 9. FG: 31-56. 3PT: 8-17 (Wonders 4, Johnson 2, Vicenzi 2). Rebounds: 24 (Wonders 6). Assists: 19 (Johnson 11). Steals: 14 (Johnson 5).