Thomann, Caudell power Mountaineers by Knights
By RON DEUTER
IRON MOUNTAIN – The Iron Mountain Mountaineers, led by their big men Jacob Thomann and Zach Caudell, grinded out a 43-34 Mid-Peninsula Conference basketball victory over Norway Friday evening.
Thomann scored a game-high 12 points and pulled down nine boards, while Caudell posted a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds.
“We have some size,” Mountaineers coach Bucky Johnson said. “Our focus was to get the ball in the lane. Norway played a zone, and they made it hard for us to run some of our stuff, but in the second half we got the ball where we needed to get.”
The Knights, playing their second game in as many nights, were led by Austin Grayvold’s 11 points – all of which came in the first half. Norway held a three-point lead at halftime of what was a tight first two quarters, but the Mountaineers began to wear down the Knights after the break.
Brock Grenier, Mark Beauchamp – making his first varsity start – and Jack Merrill all sunk 3-pointers in a third quarter that saw Iron Mountain grab command of the game.
“Those threes in the third killed us,” Norway head coach Ben Leiker said. “Those were huge shots. We had to go zone for the first time this year. I didn’t think we had any other option because they are so big at every position.
“We can’t cover inside and out completely, so they got us.”
Fatigue was also a factor in the Knights’ demise after halftime.
“Two nights in a row is not something we’re used to doing, especially this early in the season,” Leiker said. “In the second half, it showed up. Against this group, with the matchups, I had to keep certain kids in longer than maybe I should have. The kids’ legs were pretty heavy and the shots were coming up short.”
Norway shows just two starters taller than 6-foot with Bryce Grayvold (6-1) and Nick Pearman (6-4). Iron Mountain’s Thomann and Caudell are both listed at 6-5.
“They are gigantic, actually,” Leiker said. “They are probably the biggest team we’ll face all year. I thought we could get around them with our quickness, and we did early.”
Thomann and Caudell helped Iron Mountain to a 31-20 advantage in the rebound column.
“I thought our big guys were pretty active on the glass tonight,” Johnson said. “And if they missed they put it back in.
“Norway played hard. The Grayvolds really hurt us in the first half. It was a good game, a good battle.”
Iron Mountain, despite missing seven straight from the foul line down the stretch, held command in every other facet of the game and was never really threatened in the final frame.
A Mike Faull lay-up with two minutes to play accounted for the Knights only points in the quarter.
“Hopefully we’re finding a rhythm,” Johnson said. “It’s work in progress. The pieces of the puzzle are there. We’re just trying to put them together.
“I thought the kids stepped up and played well tonight. We competed we played hard. We didn’t finish them off with the free throws at the end like we could have, but overall I’m happy with the win.”
Norway’s freshmen won 53-40. Iron Mountain’s JV’s rolled 64-38, getting 18 points from Tanner Huotari and 16 each from Ryan Michaud and Carson Wonders.
Iron Mountain (2-2, 2-1) hosts Stephenson Friday, Dec. 27, with an early start time. Jayvee action begins at 4:30 with the varsity to follow at 6 p.m. Norway 2-2 (1-1) resumes play Friday, Jan. 3, hosting Gwinn.
Norway 10 11 11 2 – 34
Iron Mountain 10 8 17 8 – 43
NORWAY: A. Grayvold 11, Bal 7, B. Grayvold 7, Pearman 6, Rossato 1, Faull 2. FT: 10-18. F: 17. FO: A. Grayvold.
IRON MOUNTAIN: Grenier 6, Merrill 6, Beauchamp 8, Caudell 10, Thomann 12, Rossato 1. FT: 8-23. F: 14.
FG shooting – N: 11-31 (3-pt: 2-8); IM: 16-35 (3-pt: 3-13). 3-pt FGs – N: Bal, B. Grayvold; IM: Grenier, Merrill, Beauchamp. Rebounding – N: 20 (A. Grayvold 6); IM: 31 (Caudell 10).