Senior Hart Holmgren leads Ishpeming Hematites’ late push to get 76-47 Class C district boys basketball tournament win over Gwinn Modeltowners

Ishpeming’s Darius Yohe reacts after a dunk against Gwinn in a Class C district tournament game Wednesday in Negaunee. (Journal photo by Corey Kelly)

NEGAUNEE — The best players step up at the most opportune times and Ishpeming’s Hart Holmgren did just that Wednesday night.

With the Hematites holding an eight-point lead heading into the fourth quarter, the senior and future Northern Michigan University baller scored 14 of his game-high 37 points in the fourth to lift Ishpeming over Gwinn 76-47 and into the Class C district tournament championship game at 7 p.m. Friday against Westwood.

Holmgren hit a jumper to start a 22-0 Hematite run in the fourth that broke the game wide open. Ishpeming also held Gwinn to only six points in the period.

“We had a slow start shooting-wise as a team,” Ishpeming head coach Anthony Katona said. “We were getting good looks and we were getting open shots, so it was just a matter of time when they were starting to fall. Hart just did what he does. He was very good at penetrating that zone and getting some easy buckets tonight.”

The Modeltowners kept up with Ishpeming for much of the game and pulled within four points of the Hematites in the third quarter before things went off the rails in the fourth.

Tucker Taylor led Gwinn with 18 points.

“We had some momentum coming into that fourth quarter,” Gwinn head coach Jim Finkbeiner said. “We had a couple of good scoring opportunities and were making some good stops.

“I was talking to some of the other guys about this, the best players rise to the occasion when they really need you the most. Hart finished with 37 points, but he had 14 in the fourth quarter and most of that in just the first four minutes.

“That’s why you count on from a player like that. He’s not an (All Mid-Peninsula Conference) first teamer for no reason. He should be first team All U.P. when he can take a game over like that.

“It wasn’t that we weren’t playing him tough or anything. He hit shots over guys and that’s what you ask for from good players.

“Our kids executed our game plan almost meticulously for three quarters, but when you get a player like that and he gets hot, I don’t have enough timeouts to stop it.

“So hats off to them. They’re a nice team and we knew we had our hands full coming in, but I think they know that we gave them a pretty good game, too.”

In the first quarter, a Holmgren dunk and nice steal and layup from Darius Yohe helped give the Hematites a 17-8 advantage heading into the second.

Gwinn started to improve in the second quarter and cut its deficit to five on a putback by Taylor. However, whenever the Modeltowners started to get something going, Ishpeming had an answer.

Holmgren hit a jumper and then knocked down a trey to put the Hematites up by double digits, and a triple from Yohe helped Ishpeming take a 31-21 advantage into the half.

The Modeltowners started to chip away at the Hematites’ lead again in the third quarter as Jacob Harnick knocked down a triple to start off the frame, and later on six straight free throws helped whittle the deficit to four.

Holmgren put the hopes of a Gwinn comeback to rest pretty quickly, though. He hit back-to-back 3-pointers to put Ishpeming up by 10 and the Hematites rolled from there.

To move on in the postseason, Katona says his team needs to fix some areas of its game.

“We just have to play a complete game,” he said. “If we want to end this season and put together a run at all, we’ve got to be able to put a complete game together.

“Our post defense has got to step up a little bit better. We had a pretty good game against Tucker, but there were too many chances there and too many fouls against him to get him to the free throw line. So we’ve got to clean those little things up.”

Ryan Stieg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is rstieg@miningjournal.net.