Miners fend off Mountaineers


Sports Editor

IRON MOUNTAIN – Taylor Huotari, Iron Mountain’s only scorer for the first 16 minutes, totaled a game-best 22 points, but Negaunee pulled away at the foul line in the fourth quarter to earn a 60-36 Mid-Peninsula boys basketball win here Monday.

“It was a battle for sure,” Iron Mountain head coach Harvey Johnson said. “I don’t think the score is an indicator of what the game was like.”

Negaunee, led by Tyler Jandron’s 18 points, held a 34-26 advantage after three quarters. But the Miners entered the fourth in the bonus and collected 16 points at the line in the final frame, shooting 22-of-27 at the stripe for the night.

“We definitely played better in the second half,” Negaunee coach Mike O’Donnell said. “It was a grind-it-out victory, a very physical game both ways.

“We did a nice job in the second half of creating separation, forcing Iron Mountain to foul, and then making our free throws.”

Jandron scored eight of his 18 with a perfect effort at the line. Tanner Uren, who had 10 points, was 6-of-6 with the freebies. Eric Lori also scored in doubles for Negaunee with 11 points.

Considering the physical toll of the game – which included a combined 41 fouls – O’Donnell was even more impressed with his team’s ability to come through at the line late.

“It’s an excellent percentage,” he said. “Shooting that many of them makes it even more impressive. It’s a credit to the conditioning to still be able to step up there and knock them down.

“That’s what you need to do to put away a team on the road.”

A two-point game after one quarter, Iron Mountain held the Miners off the board for the first couple minutes of the second quarter before Jandron sunk a jumper and followed with a lay-in.

A free throw by Gerry Pirkola at the 3:31 mark of the second provided Iron Mountain with its first point by someone other than Huotari. Luke Zambon added a triple shortly after to bring Iron Mountain back within two at 18-16, but the Miners closed the half on a 6-1 run.

Iron Mountain was within six points of the Miners as late as 2:21 to play in the third after a three by Pirkola, but Negaunee opened the fourth with a 7-3 push and never let Iron Mountain back in the game.

A deep triple by Eric Lori pushed the margin into double digits for good, and the Miners hit 11-of-11 at the line the rest of the way.

“I thought the kids played hard, battled defensively and didn’t lay down for them,” Johnson said. “Taylor attacked the basket very well, got in the lane made some nice layups.

“It was a hard fought game. Negaunee is a good team. We have to give them credit. They are solid at every position.”

Negaunee, ranked No. 2 in the U.P.S.S.A Class ABC basketball poll, improved to 11-1 (6-0). The game was a make-up contest from last week after cold weather cancelled school.

“I thought we took away everybody other than Huotari,” O’Donnell said of his team’s defensive effort. “We did a good job on those guys. Huotari had an excellent game. He caused fits for us all night getting into that lane on us and finishing at the rim.”

Iron Mountain (8-4, 6-2) pulled out a double-overtime jayvee win (58-55) behind 18 points from Cole Rossato, 16 by Mark Beauchamp and 15 from Brock Grenier. The IM frosh won 55-32.

Negaunee 10 14 10 26 – 60

Iron Mountain 8 9 9 10 – 36

NEGAUNEE: Jandron 18, Lori 11, Uren 10, Weaver 8, Martin 5, Katona 2, Radloff 2, Zampese 2, O’Keefe 2. FT: 22-27. F: 19. FO: Uren.

IRON MOUNTAIN: Huotari 22, Zambon 8, Pirkola 4, Brooks 1, Caudell 1. FT: 9-17. F: 22. FO: Thomann.

FG shooting – N: 18-42 (3pt: 2-8); IM: 12-37 (3-pt: 3-11). 3-pt FGs – N: Lori, Martin; IM: Pirkola, Zambon (2). Rebounding – N: 35 (Uren 7); IM: 23 (Huotari 9).