By RON DEUTER
IRON MOUNTAIN – Zach Caudell posted a double-double of 20 points and 12 rebounds to help lead Iron Mountain past Stephenson 58-46 in non-conference boys basketball Friday night.
“We didn’t get off to a real good start, but we were able to battle back,” Iron Mountain head coach Bucky Johnson said.
The Mountaineers trailed briefly in the first quarter, figuring out how to solve 6-foot-5 Stephenson post Brandon Kau, but responded with a late first-quarter push to take a lead they would never lose.
Caudell had 12 of his 20 in the second half. Brock Grenier added 11 points, and Jake Thomann put in 10 more.
Kau’s 21 led all scorers, but he got in foul trouble early with two in the first quarter and three by half. The Mountaineers checked him to just two second-half field goals.
“That big guy is tough,” Johnson said. “Our gameplan coming out of the half was to try to get him out any we could.”
The Mountaineers did that by attacking the paint, getting a flurry of layups by Thomann and Caudell to help build a double-digit cushion early in the third quarter.
CJ Qualley was another Mountaineer taking it inside, contributing all six of his points after halftime.
“We had a bunch of guys going to the basket,” Johnson said. We really attacked well, and finished the game well.”
Three-point shooting, including four from Skylar Joslin in the second half, is about all that kept Stephenson within striking distance. Eagles coach Joe Simon, however, was pleased with his team’s effort.
“”It was a huge improvement,” he said. “I’m actually proud of the way they competed. We were strong with the ball. We cut down on turnovers.”
Joslin drained a deep three late in the third to bring Stephenson within four points at 37-33, but the Mountaineers responded with an 8-0 run, getting buckets Grenier and putbacks from Caudell and Thomann.
“Iron Mountain’s big guys were tough,” Simon said.
Another putback by Thomann with about five minutes to play in the game had the Mountaineers in double figures for good. The lead grew to 17 before several Mountaineer starters took a seat with a just a few minutes left to play.
“We some good stretches there in the second half where we really played well,” Johnson said. “Caudell played great, He’s gaining more confidence and guys are starting to look for him.
“Grenier was consistent all night, ran the show for us, and Qualley came alive in the second half. All in all it was a good effort.”
Iron Mountain’s jayvees posted a 63-24 win. Carson Wonders totaled 19 points.
Iron Mountain (3-2) plays at Westwood Jan. 2. Stephenson plays at North Central tonight.
Stephenson 14 9 10 13 – 46
Iron Mountain 16 11 14 17 – 58
STEPHENSON: Joslin 15, Brock 10, Kau 21. FT: 7-17. F: 17. F: Joslin.
IRON MOUNTAIN: Grenier 11, Merrill 4, Caudell 20, Thomann 10, Rossato 4, Qualley 6, Kramer 3. FT: 5-13. F: 17.
FG shooting – S: Not available; IM: 26-52; 3-pt FGs – S: Joslin (4), Brock (3); IM: IM: Grenier. Rebounding – S: Not available; IM: 26 (Caudell 12).