Iron Mountain sinks No. 1 Esky

Wonders scores 27, surpasses 2,000 career points; Basanese sparks rally

(Theresa Proudfit photos) Escanaba’s Jared Hanson (30) defends against Iron Mountain’s Foster Wonders (00) on Tuesday night at Iron Mountain.

IRON MOUNTAIN — It’s not often the No. 1- and No. 2-ranked teams in the Upper Peninsula Sportswriters and Sportscasters U.P. basketball poll get to square off in the regular season. Tuesday night, at the Mountaineer gymnasium, Iron Mountain hosted non-conference foe Escanaba with the home team coming away with a 58-52 win in a hard-fought, nip-and-tuck battle.

“Tonight was the No. 1 team in the U.P. at the No. 2 team in the U.P. We both deserve our rankings,” said Iron Mountain head coach Harvey “Bucky” Johnson. “Escanaba plays some really tough opponents, and I thought our boys rose to the occasion.”

University of Southern Illinois recruit and Iron Mountain senior Foster Wonders recorded a double-double with a game-high 27 points and 14 rebounds.

Wonders’ first shot was an historic one.

With the Mountaineers already leading 5-0, the 6-foot 5-inch phenom drained a 3-pointer from the top of the key to surpass the 2,000 point scoring plateau for his career. It came in his 80th varsity game in the Iron Mountain black and gold.

Ricky Brown (10) looks to pass against Colin Hudson (20) and Brandon Frazer (4). In a battle of unbeatens, Iron Mountain prevailed 58-52.

Wonders sits at 2,026 points, with the Iron Mountain school record of 2,076 held by Marcus Johnson now looming.

The 8-0 lron Mountain lead had the crowd roaring, which was suddenly stymied by a 7-2 Eskymos scoring run.. At the end of the first stanza, Wonders had 10 points, and the Mountaineers led 15-9.

Escanaba came out of the quarter break with emphasis. They went on another 7-2 scoring run in the first 2:45 of the quarter. IM called a time out with a slim one-point lead, 17-16.

The remainder of the second quarter was back and forth, with Escanaba evening the score at 21-21 on a made layup from their leading scorer on the night, Erik Victorson. The senior guard netted 18 points on the night, with two of them coming off of two made free throws right before the end of the first half to give the Eskymos a 23-21 lead at the intermission.

“Victorson for them, off the dribble, he’s as good as any guard out there,” said Johnson. Victorson also had the unenviable task of guarding Wonders.

“Erik did a great job on Wonders,” Escanaba head coach Tracy Hudson said. “We ran a triangle and two defense. Eric’s job was to make him (Wonders) work for all of his points, and he certainly did that. Our guys executed the game plan well, and played hard.”

The pace of the early stages of the third period set the tone for the entire quarter. Both teams ran their half- court offensive sets with patience and got good looks at the basket.

“Their (Escanaba) defense was tough tonight. We don’t really face anyone who plays defense like that, but we finally found some creases in the third quarter,” Johnson said.

Escanaba did take a narrow lead to the midway point of the quarter, but Mountaineers senior Ricky Brown drained a trey to pull IM within a point, 31-30. At quarter’s end, Escanaba held a 34-32 lead.

At the 4:45 mark of the final stanza, senior Dante Basanese drained a corner 3-pointer away from the Mountaineers bench to knot the game at 40-40.

“After finding the creases in their defense, we found an offense that we could run and Dante made them pay. That’s as simple as it gets,” Johnson said. “Foster had 27 (points), but without Dante’s 15, we probably don’t win the game.”

“Our defense did what we needed to do, they had a mystery man, a ‘Sundance Kid’ (Basanese) step up and get it done. That’s what got us tonight,” Hudson said.

Johnson also pointed to the Mountaineers’ scrappy defense as a key.

Escanaba, who was pounding the ball into the paint with 6’7 Carter Hudson, kept it a game down the stretch. Hudson finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds.

After hitting the game tying 3-pointer, Basanese came down the floor and drained another trey, this one right in front of the Mountaineers bench.

On top of three huge treys from Basanese, Wonders netted eight points down the stretch as the Mountaineers put the game away.

“Coach Hudson’s game plan was tremendous, I give him a ton of credit,” Johnson said.

The win was the Mountaineers’ seventh in the last 10 years versus Escanaba. The teams didn’t face one another in 2019 or 2020.

The lone win for the Eskymos in that time frame versus Iron Mountain was a 55-45 win on Feb. 4, 2014.

The most recent meeting before Tuesday night was at Escanaba on Feb. 6, 2018 — a 74-48 Mountaineers win, with Wonders, a freshman netting 21 points.

Iron Mountain, who improved to 12-0, hits the road for the next three games, starting with a trip to Westwood on Thursday. On Monday, IM has a Mid-Peninsula Conference rematch at Gladstone.

Escanaba, who won the JV game, falls to 11-1. The Eskimos return home to entertain Great Northern Conference foe Kingsford on Friday night, before hosting non-conference foe Negaunee on Monday night.

Escanaba 9 14 11 18 — 52

Iron Mtn 15 6 11 26 — 58

ESCANABA: Frazer 9, Colin Hudson 7, Carter Hudson 14, Hanson 3, Maki 1, Victorson 18; FT: 8-15; F: 14; Fouled Out: None; 3-point FG: Frazer 3, Colin Hudson.

IRON MTN: Wonders 27, Brown 3, Pietrantonio 8, Evosevich-Hynes 3, Basanese 15, Colavecchi 2; FT: 7-17; F: 18; Fouled Out: Kleiman; 3-point FG: Brown, Evosevich-Hynes, Wonders 4, Basanese 3.


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