Foster Wonders breaks Upper Peninsula boys basketball scoring record, Iron Mountain advances to MHSAA Division 3 quarterfinals
SAULT STE. MARIE — Iron Mountain has the new Upper Peninsula boys basketball scoring king and a berth in the MHSAA Division 3 quarterfinals to boot.
The Mountaineers prevailed 63-52 over Oscoda in their regional championship game played at Sault Ste. Marie High School on Thursday night.
Mountaineers senior Foster Wonders led the way with 31 points and became the U.P.’s all-time boys scoring leader. Iron Mountain (17-0) advances to play McBain (16-0) in the quarterfinals Tuesday at Lake City.
Thursday was also a matchup of unbeatens as The Associated Press No. 3 Mountaineers faced the No. 2 Owls. The Mountaineers got off to a solid start, but struggled in the second quarter and faced their biggest deficit of the season.
“They are a really good team that was 20-0 for a reason,” Iron Mountain coach Harvey “Bucky” Johnson said. “No. 21 and 14 (Kevin Hess and Owen Franklin) are slick players. Then No. 1 (Michael Gepfrey) starting getting loose and he had seven in the half, too. We knew we couldn’t let No. 1 get another seven points in the second half. We had to tighten some things on defense.
“We were down seven at the half, the most we’ve been down at the half all season. But we ended up slowing them down, and we scored 43 in the second half. Overall, we had a gutty performance.”
Despite having Oscoda’s Brennon Mils draped all over him while also being double- and triple-teamed, Wonders couldn’t miss at the start. He scored 10 points in the opening quarter and broke the U.P. scoring record in that first frame, while the Mountaineers opened a 14-10 lead.
Led by the trio of Hess, Franklin and Gepfrey, the Owls answered with some hot shooting of their own and built a 29-22 advantage by halftime.
The Mountaineers fought their way back in the third quarter, outscoring the Owls 21-10. Iron Mountain led 43-39 heading into the fourth quarter, but the Owls were not done.
After a drive and three-point play by Franklin, Oscoda led 49-47 with just over five minutes left. Then the Mountaineers took over down the stretch. Starting with an offensive rebound put-back from Bryce Pietrantonio, followed by a 3-pointer from Wonders, the Mountaineers scored the final 12 points.
Also during the key final run, Caleb Evosevich-Hynes drew a charge on defense while making four free throws.
Pietrantonio finished with 13 points, while Evosevich-Hynes had eight.
“We won a regional championship and made history tonight,” Johnson said. “Foster is the all-time leading scoring in the Upper Peninsula. That’s a special thing. Here in the U.P. we take pride in our athletics. If anybody deserves it, it is Foster. He’s worked tremendously hard on his game. It was extra special to win the regional and see Foster break the record.”
Franklin scored 18 points and Hess added 17 points for the Owls, who finish 20-1.
Wonders broke the U.P. career scoring record of Gage Kreski of St. Ignace, set in 2016. Kreski scored 2,178 points over his prep career, which broke the previous record of Dom Jacobetti of Negaunee St. Paul that stood for over 50 years. Jacobetti scored 2,140 points from 1961-65.
“I’ve been approaching it all year to just take it as it comes,” Wonders said. “I don’t try to force anything, just try to take what’s there in the game. The first goal tonight was to win and keep advancing in the tournament.”