Quick start lifts Mountaineers
By BURT ANGELI
IRON MOUNTAIN – Iron Mountain came out firing and took down Ishpeming 62-44 in Mid-Peninsula Conference boys basketball Monday.
“Holy cow,” said Mountaineers coach Bucky Johnson. “We got off to a fantastic start.”
The Mountaineers meshed five first-quarter triples and sprinted to a 21-8 bulge. The difference was 33-13 at halftime.
“They had a little pep in their step and shot the lights out,” Hematites coach John Tiziani said.
Mountaineers’ Luke Zambon and Taylor Huotari each drained 21 points. Point guard Gerry Pirkola contributed 10 points and eight assists.
“I don’t know if it was their fantastic shooting or a lack of our defense on the two guys we knew we needed to contain,” Tiziani said. “They were killers for us and easily dominated the game. We had no one who could match them.”
Zambon zapped Ishpeming for 22 points in a 44-37 Mountaineer victory earlier this month. Johnson anticipated seeing a 1-2-2 zone again but Ishpeming came out Monday with a triangle-and-two.
“Iron Mountain is a good team with a nice point guard and two very good scorers on the wings,” Tiziani said. “I thought we would be up to the challenge.
“It’s very unfortunate coming off a big win against Gwinn.”
Joe Lyle’s 12 points topped the Hematites, who closed the gap to 16 points in the third quarter.
Iron Mountain, with tournament time around the corner, extended its winning streak to six games.
“You want to gain momentum going into the tournament and this is a good time to do that,” Johnson said. “We just want to keep improving each night when we go out.
“This was a good team win and everybody contributed.”
The Mountaineers blocked eight shots and the reserves also did their share. Center Zach Caudell was active around the basket with a team-high seven rebounds, Johnson went onto the court to congratulate Marcus Celello for taking a charge and Ryan Ducharme drilled a three-pointer to wrap up the Mountaineer scoring.
In a pair of “Senior Night” contests, Iron Mountain (13-4 overall, 9-2 MPC) meets West Iron County tonight and Ishpeming (6-9, 4-6) faces Munising on Wednesday.
Ishpeming claimed the junior varsity contest, 69-18, while the Mid-Peninsula Conference champion Mountaineer frosh triumphed over the Hematites 58-53. Kyle Johnson scored 22 points and Tanner Huotari had 18 for Iron Mountain.
Ishpeming 8 5 15 16 – 44
Iron Mountain 21 12 19 10 – 62
ISHPEMING: Briones 8, Kuliu 4, Lyle 12, Laurin 2, Zhulkie 5, Millimaki 7, Kugler 6. FT: 13-19. F: 15.
IRON MOUNTAIN: Huotari 21, Pirkola 10, Ducharme 3, Brooks 4, Thomann 2, Zambon 21, Caudell 1. FT: 8-12. F: 16.
3-point FG: Huotari 2, Pirkola 2, Ducharme, Zambon 5, Briones 2, Kuliu, Lyle, Millimaki. FG shooting: Ishpeming 13-40, Iron Mountain 22-56. Rebounding: Iron Mountain 25 (Caudell 7, Zambon 5), Ishpeming 19 (Lyle 5).