2017-12-07 / Sports

Johnson drops 27 in win over Emeralds

IRON MOUNTAIN – Opening the season on the road and playing in a different time zone proved to be more than the Manistique Emerald boys’ varsity basketball team could overcome Tuesday night. Behind a 27 point performance by Marcus Johnson, the Iron Mountain Mountaineers defeated Manistique 71-29.

After trading baskets early, Iron Mountain put together a 7-0 run, controlling a 10-point advantage at the end of the first quarter. Up 19 to nine, Iron Mountain added 24 more points in the second period to control a 43-17 lead at the half.

“Not totally unexpected,” Coach Ed Marietti said of his team’s first contest.

Marietti kick off the season with nine players at his disposal – none of which started for him last season.

“We are young, we are inexperienced and we have sophomore guards running the offense,” he said. “I was somewhat happy with our play in the first half. We were able to break their press, move the ball and get layups off of it, but things changed in the third.”

Ahead 43-17 at the break and following a slow start by both teams, the Mountaineers took advantage of turnovers by Manistique in the third quarter to go on a 19-2 run, forcing a running clock late in the quarter. Trying to deal with the press, the Emeralds managed just one bucket from the floor in the period.

“At the start of the quarter we probably had the ball five times and stopped them four, but did not get anything in return,” said Marietti. “We went about three minutes without either team scoring, then they pressed us again and this time we threw the ball away which led to a bunch of easy buckets and a big lead for them.”

Despite the loss, Marietti said he sees potential in this year’s squad.

“Number wise I only have one junior and three sophomores. If I did not bring them up we would have only had a junior varsity team this season. They will learn; they are athletic and have decent size which is a good thing. Our intensity wasn’t there tonight. On every loose ball they dove and went after it or knocked it out of our hands.”

Marietti went on to say that the opener was a “learning experience” as he expects the Mid-Peninsula Conference to be extremely competitive again this season. Manistique travels to Gladstone today and will play their home opener Dec. 15 against Gwinn. The Braves opened their season with a 77-67 win over Ishpeming.

Manistique: 9, 8, 3, 9 – 29; Block 2, Hoholik 7, Jenerou 1, Lauzon 2, Hagenson 2, Anderson 9, Smith 2, Seeley 4

IM: 19, 24, 19, 9 – 71; Caudell 3, Kulas 2, Johnson 27, Birazza 2, Celello 6, Tucker 6, Feira 3, Vicenzi 13, Gerhard 9

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