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Gwinn wins thriller: Last-second shot doesn’t fall for Hematite boys

In a last ditch effort, down by two points, Ishpeming's Hunter Smith gets a pass from Gavin Sundberg, drives the baseline, goes up for a reverse layup but runs into a towering Tucker Taylor. Smith then turns in midair and dishes a pass off to Darius Yohe who clangs a shot off the front of the rim with .3 seconds on the clock.

ISHPEMING — After Austin Forbes fell to the floor with an injury in the second quarter of Gwinn High School’s varsity boys basketball game at Ishpeming on Wednesday night, Forbes made sure shots started falling for his team as well.

The Modeltowners’ senior guard was back in the game shortly after, and racked up 26 points on the night to help Gwinn top the Hematites 52-50.

Gwinn improved to 2-1 while the Hematites fell to 0-3.

The two-point victory for the Modeltowners was a little too close for comfort however. With a comfortable 14-point lead early in the fourth quarter, the Hematites found their way back into things, but couldn’t get a final shot from senior forward Darius Yohe to fall at the buzzer which would have tied the game.

Gwinn head coach Jim Finkbeiner said his team got a little too comfortable late in the third quarter, allowing the Hematites to control the play and cut the deficit down.

“This game wasn’t at a pace or even possession-wise where we wanted to be, and that goes to Ishpeming,” he said. “They kind of controlled the tempo and that’s something that’s going to happen at times. I give our guys credit though because we found a way to adapt to that tempo.

“We grew up a little bit tonight. We had adversity and the guys didn’t quit. They didn’t back off, they continued to attack when they could and everything wasn’t perfect but we found a way to get it finished.”

Forbes credited his teammates for trusting him with the ball.

“I don’t expect to come out and score, I try to give my teammates shots,” he said. “But when I’m out there and don’t miss, I’m just going to keep shooting the ball. We had teamwork (tonight) which is something we don’t usually have all of the time. We have a lot of extra players on the bench this year so I think it’ll be a good season.”

Despite Ishpeming’s 0-3 mark, the team is better than its record shows. The Hematites have lost all three of those games by a combined six points, falling by one point to Gladstone, three points to Westwood and now two points to Gwinn.

Ishpeming head coach Anthony Katona said his team only put together one full quarter, the final one which was too little, too late for the Hematites.

“From the get-go we came out flat-footed kind of like we did against Westwood,” he said. “It wasn’t until I think the six-and-a-half minute mark in the fourth quarter where we finally felt that sense of urgency where we needed to start pushing the ball and pressuring.

“We talked all week about needing to pressure the ball and needing to make them work, and we didn’t do that on the defensive end for the first three quarters. Obviously the outcome shows that.”

The teams played to a 13-13 draw after the first eight minutes before Forbes hit a triple to open the second quarter. Gwinn eventually went up 20-13, but the Hematites tied things up at 20 after three consecutive baskets from senior guard Gavin Sundberg.

Sundberg hit a triple and two 2-pointers to even the score before the Modeltowners finally answered with a 3-ball of their own from sophomore guard James Harnick.

Gwinn maintained that lead for the remaining time and held a 26-24 halftime edge.

Much like the second quarter, Forbes hit another 3-pointer to open the third putting his team up 29-24 early in the frame. The Modeltowners outscored the Hematites 16-7 in the quarter, holding an 11-point lead with eight minutes to go at 42-31.

Gwinn increased that lead to 14 points at 47-33 before Ishpeming went on an 11-point run, which included four free throws from junior forward Jacob Kugler, 2-point baskets from Yohe and Kugler, and a triple from senior guard Hunter Smith on a pass from Sundberg to make it 47-44 with just over four minutes to play.

With the Modeltowners up 50-44 with 1:31 left, Sundberg hit a 3-point basket to make it a three point deficit once again.

With 45 seconds left and Ishpeming forced to foul, Gwinn senior forward Tucker Taylor hit a pair of free throws to make it a five-point lead.

The 3-ball came out again for the Hematites with 18 seconds to play, this time Smith draining it.

The Hematites quickly fouled, and Harnick missed both of his free throws giving Ishpeming a chance to tie or win the game with the last possession.

A pass was fed out to Yohe who had a 2-point try at the buzzer, but it went off the rim as the Modeltowners survived.

Gwinn shot 16 of 33 from the field while Ishpeming was 18 of 57. Gwinn was 12 of 19 from the charity stripe while Ishpeming was a perfect 8 of 8.

Taylor added 12 points and 18 rebounds for the Modeltowners.

Ishpeming was led by Sundberg with 20 points, while Kugler had 12 points and Yohe eight while collecting 10 rebounds.

Gwinn hosts Manistique on Friday while Ishpeming travels to Kingsford on Tuesday.

Email Ryan Spitza at sports@miningjournal.net.