iron mountain high school athletics
home of the mountaineers
Boys Varsity Basketball
Game Summaries & Headlines.
- Game Date
- Nov 30, 2023
- : 61
NEGAUNEE HIGH SCHOOL: 39
Daily News Sportswriter
IRON MOUNTAIN — All coaches want their teams to improve game to game. While that is nearly impossible to do during the arduous three-month long regular season, the successful teams do build to a crescendo by the time the district tournaments begin.
Just two games in, Iron Mountain has begun that ascent. After defeating Gladstone in the opener in a low-scoring affair, the Mountaineers got untracked offensively Thursday night and routed Negaunee 61-39 in a West Pac Conference game at Mountaineer Gym.
It wasn’t just the 10 additional points the Mountaineers scored after beating Gladstone by eight on Monday.
It was the quicker start and the lightning transition game that Iron Mountain showcased in the second game.
Oskar Kangas scored 11 of his team’s 13 points in the opening eight minutes as the Mountaineers grabbed control of the contest and took a 13-2 lead after one quarter.
The lanky junior finished with 28 points, while Gerald Sampoll Torres totaled 15 and Reece Kangas added 10.
“We got off to a much better start offensively,” IM coach Harvey “Bucky” Johnson said.
“I thought Oskar got going, had some nice steals and some nice dunks. Certainly, everybody likes to see that, the fans like it and the kids get excited about it.”
“First game we started kind of slow, but we improved in practice two days in a row,” Sampoll Torres added.
Thursday’s game was just another in a long line of tough, physical and spirited battles between the Mountaineers and the Miners.
Both teams guarded extremely hard and aggressively on and off the ball, crashed the glass with gusto and fought through the multitude of screens like wolverines.
The result was a foul-filled encounter with tempers boiling over at times. The teams combined for 34 fouls, with IM whistled for 22.
“It was a physical game,” Johnson said. “We were just really scrappy. Guys were diving on the floor getting after loose balls and some of those fouls, and they were fouls, were just aggressive fouls. But we fouled too much and that’s something we want to clean up.”
After building a double-digit lead after the first quarter, the Mountaineers hit Negaunee (0-2) with a 14-2 run over the last six minutes of the second quarter to push their lead to 29-12 at the break.
While the Mountaineer offense has started to find its form, the defense has been tenacious and stingy from the first whistle of the first game. On Thursday night, the Miners scored just 20 points in the first 20 minutes of the game.
Johnson pointed to his team’s versatility with all his rotation players able to guard several spots on the floor.
Sampoll Torres offered the simplest explanation for his team’s defensive prowess through two games.
“We play pretty hard out there,” Sampoll Torres said.
Negaunee came out of the halftime break with three buckets, but the Mountaineers took off again 2½ minutes into the third.
Reece Kangas knocked down his first 3-pointer of the game, followed by a steal and layup by Sampoll Torres, a steal and dunk from Oskar Kangas and a 3-pointer from Evan Copley to shove the Miners back into a 45-20 hole.
Iron Mountain took its largest lead of the night at 59-29 on a layup by Reece Kangas with 5:51 remaining.
Copley followed his impressive opener with six points and some excellent defense in the stead of starting forward Matthew Colavecchi, who was in foul difficulties much of the night.
Ian Marttila, still finding his way back into his basketball form after missing last season with a foot injury, scored two points for the victors.
Gavin Saunders was the only Miner in double figures with 12 points.
The Mountaineers are off until Thursday, Dec. 7 when they travel to West Iron County (0-2) to begin a six-game stretch of games on the road. Iron Mountain will not play another home game until Jan. 11 against Escanaba.