Westwood falls to Iron Mountain in district final

By ADAM NIEMI

Iron Mountain Daily News

IRON RIVER — Iron Mountain jumped to a 12-3 lead late in the first quarter and held momentum throughout, beating Westwood 53-36 for the Class C District 95 title on Friday.

Iron Mountain plays Newberry at 4:30 p.m. CST Monday at Escanaba High School.

The Mountaineers (19-3) held Westwood to 11 points in the first half.

“Westwood’s a really patient team and they don’t take bad shots. I thought we had them pretty well scouted,” IM head coach Bucky Johnson said. “Last time we played them, (David) Delarye killed us inside and that wasn’t the case tonight. They’re all over you defensively, so we didn’t make any 3’s but I thought we attacked the basket. We got to the free-throw line 21 times. They got there nine, so we made more than they attempted. That’s always a big key to winning.”

With a strong and relentless presence in the key, Iron Mountain grabbed 11 offensive rebounds, which Johnson thought was critical.

“We cleaned up the glass. We had 35 rebounds. They didn’t get many second shots,” Johnson said. “We really did a good job on the defensive boards. We did a good job attacking the basket. Carson (Wonders) got down around the basket. He had mismatches. I thought Marcus (Johnson) was trying to get to the basket early in the game but wasn’t getting the calls. Eventually he got in there.”

Wonders went on to score a game-high 24 points. Marcus added 15 points and Jaden Vicenzi added eight points. Charlie Gerhard scored five points and his 14 rebounds were a game high.

Westwood (6-15), which never led in the game, was unable to find a way to overcome the Mountaineers’ firepower. The Patriots also couldn’t take the lid of the basket, shooting 14 of 43 (28 percent).

“That’s one of those things. Coach Johnson’s a good coach and he’s got a great team. Carson Wonders is a great player. Marcus is a good player,” Westwood coach Chad Hewitt said. “They got some other good players coming up. They’ve got Vicenzi and Gerhard. They’re a good core group of kids and they do things right. They run an offense well. I thought early in the game we had a really good gameplan and we disrupted them.

Jacob Laakso and Blake Hewitt paced Westwood with nine points apiece. Delarye collected seven of the team’s 25 rebounds.

Iron Mountain staked a 24-11 halftime lead and then went on a 13-4 run to start the second half. The Mountaineers led by as much as 22 points late in the third quarter.

Hewitt said Iron Mountain was able to secure momentum early by not only rebounding, but getting to the free throw line early in the game.

“They got to the free throw line early and they did a good job on the offensive glass,” Hewitt said. “We didn’t do a good job boxing out. We were giving them second and third opportunities. We take that away in the first half and we’re not down whatever it is that we were down. It’s a different ballgame limiting them to one shot and one shot only. That’s March Madness, that’s what happens.”

A year after making an unlikely run to a regional title, Hewitt said the Patriots didn’t play with the sense of purpose they needed.

“You try and motivate children as best you can when you go into the locker room at halftime, getting them to come out and play hard,” Hewitt said. “It’s not that we ever don’t play hard.

“It’s effort with purpose, is what we like to say.

“Tonight, we had effort but we lacked a little bit of purpose and it showed on the glass for sure.”