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Mountaineers fall to Pewamo-Westphalia in state finals, 53-52

Controversial calls lead to pair of game-winning Pirates' free throws

Iron Mountain’s Charlie Gerhard, left, reacts as Pewamo-Westphalia celebrates its first-ever Division 3 state championship on Saturday, March 16, 2019, in East Lansing, Mich. (Adam Niemi/Iron Mountain Daily News)

EAST LANSING — Iron Mountain waited 80 years between state finals appearances.

On Saturday, the Mountaineers were 0.7 seconds away from its first state title since an Upper Peninsula-only title in 1939.

And then suddenly Pewamo-Westphalia celebrated with the state championship trophy.

Pewamo-Westphalia’s Collin Trierweiler hit a pair of free throws after controversial intentional foul and travel calls late in the game to give the Pirates a 53-52 win for their first-ever state title.

Just 0.7 seconds. After 80 years’ wait.

Iron Mountain High School boys basketball head coach Bucky Johnson, right, looks on after the team’s 53-52 loss in the MHSAA Division 3 state finals against Pewamo-Westphalia on Saturday, March 16, 2019, in East Lansing, Mich. (Adam Niemi/Iron Mountain Daily News)

“I don’t know if the other team won,” Iron Mountain sophomore Foster Wonders said. “I know for a fact we didn’t lose that game. I don’t know what to say.”

The Mountaineers (27-1) led by one and junior point guard Marcus Johnson passed the ball across the court to a wide open Tony Feira, whose layup was waved off with a travel call with a 52-51 lead and five seconds remaining. It would have sealed the game.

The Pirates (28-0) took possession and Collin Trierweiler struggled to get upcourt with Johnson guarding close.

Johnson shared his reaction to the game’s end.

“You can’t really do anything. The official called it,” he said. “Same thing with the intentional foul. We had fouls to give. We thought it was the right decision to foul them before they got a shot off.”

Pewamo-Westphalia’s Collin Trierweiler and Nathan Wirth celebrate the school’s first-ever MHSAA Division 3 state championship after defeating Iron Mountain 53-52 on Saturday, March 16, 2019, in East Lansing, Mich. (Adam Niemi/Iron Mountain Daily News)

Johnson went for a foul but was called for an intentional foul, putting Trierweiler at the line with 0:00.7 remaining. Iron Mountain took a timeout and Trierweiler made the first free throw when he got back to the line. The Mountaineers took another timeout.

Trierweiler made the go-ahead free-throw.

The travel and intentional foul calls were met with fierce boos from around the arena.

When asked about the foul calls, Johnson stared in silence at reporters for 18 seconds before responding.

“They called a travel on a made basket and an intentional foul on a play on the ball,” he said. “Next.”

Iron Mountain’s Jake Dumais, left, and Pewamo-Westphalia’s Hunter Hengesbach battle for a rebound during a MHSAA Division 3 state final against Pewamo-Westphalia on Saturday, March 16, 2019, in East Lansing, Mich. (Adam Niemi/Iron Mountain Daily News)

The game’s end drew heated reactions both in the arena and on social media. Iron Mountain fans threw debris at photographers taking photos of Iron Mountain players at the bench following the team handshake. Twitter and Facebook comments demanded the final stretch of the game be replayed, or at least name the Mountaineers and Pirates co-champions.

“I don’t know. It comes down to judgment and things didn’t go our way there,” Coach Johnson said. “That’s part of the breaks of the sport. Man, I don’t know, the way that guy… the way they reacted. I don’t know what you’re supposed to do. It’s a part of the game. It stinks to be on this end of it.”

Pewamo-Westphalia head coach Luke Pohl said the ending was a tough call for Iron Mountain.

“Obviously my heart goes out for Iron Mountain,” Pirates head coach Luke Pohl said. “I do know this though: I know the MHSAA has put a huge emphasis on that intentional foul. I believe if he had not wrapped his arms around Colin he would’ve gotten a layup. Tough, tough call. I mean if I’m on the other side, obviously very emotional. I would feel really bad about it too. I’m just gonna leave it at that.”

Iron Mountain led 52-49 with 21 seconds after a pair of free throws by Foster Wonders.

Iron Mountain’s Foster Wonders shoots as Pewamo-Westphalia’s Andre Smith defends during a MHSAA Division 3 state final on Saturday, March 16, 2019, in East Lansing, Mich. (Adam Niemi/Iron Mountain Daily News)

Trierweiler answered with a layup to tighten the lead and set up the final sequence. He said it was “scary” facing the rim with the state championship on the line, but found a way to focus.

“I just tried to calm myself down and think of myself out in the driveway with my older brother,” Trierweiler said. “We used to practice all the time and it was one of my favorite things to do. I always dreamed of the moment to be at the free-throw line in a big moment, maybe not quite this big it was a little scary, but I just tried to block out the background and think of the trees in my backyard and put them up and shoot ’em in.”

Iron Mountain’s largest lead was eight points with 2:46 in the second quarter.

Wonders, who scored his 1,000th point in the first half, finished with 20 points. Johnson finished with 17 points and a team-high six rebounds.

Trierweiler finished with 15 points and eight rebounds. for Pewamo-Westphalia. Andre Smith hit five 3-pointers and had a game-high 21 points.

Iron Mountain’s Charlie Gerhard puts up a shot against Pewamo-Westphalia during a MHSAA Division 3 state final on Saturday, March 16, 2019, in East Lansing, Mich. (Adam Niemi/Iron Mountain Daily News)

“We put in a tremendous effort,” Coach Johnson said. “It didn’t just start this year. It’s been going on for years with these guys. Their effort has never been in question. I’m really proud of them for that. Pewamo, really great effort by them too.”

The lead changed three times in the game, including twice in the first quarter. The Pirates led until a layup by Feira tied it with three minutes in the first quarter. A layup by senior Jaden Vicenzi with 1:52 gave Iron Mountain the lead until Trierweiler’s free throws at the end of the game.

The Mountaineers’ largest lead was eight with 2:46 left in the second quarter. The Pirates never led by more than four in the first quarter.

“We just couldn’t seem to get over the hump,” Pohl said.” We had a hard time stopping Johnson and then obviously Wonders. Johnson hit some unbelievable 3s against us. They’re so tough. We hung in there, we hung in there.”

Smith said he knew he had to step up if the Pirates had any hopes of winning the game. He had nine points on three triples in the third quarter.

“On this big stage obviously it’s a lot of pressure, but the first half I really didn’t contribute much to our team, obviously we’re losing. I knew I had to come out and make some plays in the second half to get to a moment like this.”

Coach Johnson said the game’s emotional end will take a while to overcome. He was asked in the postgame press conference how they’ll bounce back from it.

“That’s a great question. To have a state championship game come down to a play here, a play there, I respect officials,” he said. “But man, judgment is critical. You gotta forgive, I guess, I don’t know. Right now I’m angry. I’ll be joyful for our effort. And sorrow is — I don’t know how that’s gonna get in there. It usually takes a while. It’s just tough. It’s my fault. We had fouls to give, it’s my fault.”

Pewamo-Westphalia 11 10 14 18 — 53

Iron Mountain 15 11 14 12 — 52

PEWAMO-WESTPHALIA (53): Smith 21, Bearss 15, Wirth 7, Trierweiler 6, Hengesbach 4. FT: 5-6. F: 14. FG: 20-47. 3PT: 8-22. Rebounds: 30 (Bearss 8). Assists: 12 (Trierweiler 5). Blocks: Bearss 1. Turnovers: 8. Steals: 3 (Bearss 2).

IRON MOUNTAIN (52): Wonders 20, Johnson 17, Vicenzi 7, Gerhard 4, Feira 2, Brown 2. FT: 6-10. F: 10. FG: 21-42. 3PT: 4-12 (Johnson 3, Vicenzi 1). Rebounds: 20 (Johnson 6). Assists: 6 (Johnson 3). Turnovers: 7. Blocks: 3 (Gerhard 2, Vicenzi 1). Steals: 3.

Iron Mountain's Marcus Johnson, left, celebrates with teammate Jaden Vicenzi during a MHSAA Division 3 state final against Pewamo-Westphalia on Saturday, March 16, 2019, in East Lansing, Mich. (Adam Niemi/Iron Mountain Daily News)

The Pewamo-Westphalia High School student section celebrates a 3-pointer by Andre Smith, right, in the third quarter of a MHSAA Division 3 state final against Iron Mountain on Saturday, March 16, 2019, in East Lansing, Mich. (Adam Niemi/Iron Mountain Daily News)

The Iron Mountain High School fan section looks on before Foster Wonders takes a free throw in the fourth quarter during a MHSAA Division 3 state final against Pewamo-Westphalia on Saturday, March 16, 2019, in East Lansing, Mich. (Adam Niemi/Iron Mountain Daily News)

The Iron Mountain High School student section looks on as before Jaden Vicenzi, foreground, takes a free throw during a MHSAA Division 3 state final against Pewamo-Westphalia on Saturday, March 16, 2019, in East Lansing, Mich. (Adam Niemi/Iron Mountain Daily News)

Iron Mountain's Foster Wonders dribbles against Pewamo-Westphalia's Nathan Wirth during a MHSAA Division 3 state final on Saturday, March 16, 2019, in East Lansing, Mich. (Adam Niemi/Iron Mountain Daily News)

The Iron Mountain bench cheers during a MHSAA Division 3 state final against Pewamo-Westphalia on Saturday, March 16, 2019, in East Lansing, Mich. (Adam Niemi/Iron Mountain Daily News)a

The Iron Mountain High School boys basketball team poses with the MHSAA Division 3 state finals runner-up trophy after being defeated 53-52 by Pewamo-Westphalia on Saturday, March 16, 2019, in East Lansing, Mich. (Adam Niemi/Iron Mountain Daily News)

Pewamo-Westphalia's Collin Trierweiler holds the MHSAA Division 3 state championship trophy after defeating Iron Mountain 53-52 on Saturday, March 16, 2019, in East Lansing, Mich. (Adam Niemi/Iron Mountain Daily News)

Iron Mountain’s Marcus Johnson shoots a 3-pointer during the third quarter of a MHSAA Division 3 state final against Pewamo-Westphalia on Saturday, March 16, 2019, in East Lansing, Mich. (Adam Niemi/Iron Mountain Daily News)

Iron Mountain’s Charlie Gerhard reacts as Pewamo-Westphalia celebrates its first-ever Division 3 state championship on Saturday, March 16, 2019, in East Lansing, Mich. (Adam Niemi/Iron Mountain Daily News)

Iron Mountain's Tony Feira shoots during a MHSAA Division 3 state final against Pewamo-Westphalia on Saturday, March 16, 2019, in East Lansing, Mich. (Adam Niemi/Iron Mountain Daily News)

Iron Mountain's Jaden Vicenzi prepares to take a free throw during a MHSAA Division 3 state final against Pewamo-Westphalia on Saturday, March 16, 2019, in East Lansing, Mich. (Adam Niemi/Iron Mountain Daily News)

Iron Mountain's Marcus Johnson dribbles against Pewamo-Westphalia's Nathen Martin during a MHSAA Division 3 state final on Saturday, March 16, 2019, in East Lansing, Mich. (Adam Niemi/Iron Mountain Daily News)

Pewamo-Westphalia's Hunter Hengesbach, center, holds the ball as Iron Mountain's Tony Feira, top, tries to gain possession with Marcus Johnson, left, and Foster Wonders, right, during a MHSAA Division 3 state final on Saturday, March 16, 2019, in East Lansing, Mich. (Adam Niemi/Iron Mountain Daily News)

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