MENOMINEE — The MHSAA Division 3, District 66 Championship will reside in Menominee for one more year.
Fueled by a crucial run in the third quarter, the Menominee boys basketball team upended the Iron Mountain Mountaineers 60-54 to claim its second consecutive District title on Friday.
The Maroons advance to the Regional semifinal against Ishpeming (13-10) tonight in Marquette at 6 p.m. The Hematites defeated Westwood 66-47 in the District 65 title game.
Friday’s contest was the third time in as many seasons that Menominee and Iron Mountain clashed with the District crown on the line, and befitting of two teams that know each other well, neither team was able to build a sustainable lead throughout much of the night.
Down 22-18 at halftime, Menominee battled back in the third quarter to tie the game at 31-31 off a jumper by Trevor Theuerkauf.
Connor Coduti swished a deep 3-pointer to give the Maroons a three-point lead that they refused to relinquish, with a run of 11 unanswered points pushing Menominee ahead 47-35 early in the fourth quarter.
Coudti hit another triple to give Menominee its biggest lead of the night (14 points) before a 7-0 run by the Mountaineers cut Iron Mountain’s deficit to seven with just over two minutes to play.
Tanner Theuerakuf and Landan Bardowski both scored to push Menominee ahead by 11 with 42.6 seconds remaining before Iron Mountain (21-2) closed the gap to five with 9.9 ticks on the clock.
Tanner Theuerkauf tacked on an insurance free throw one and a half seconds later to preserve the victory for Menominee.
“In the first half, I don’t think that we ran very well, and that was reflected on the scoreboard. If we weren’t willing to run hard and get out in transition for the final 16 minutes, then we probably wouldn’t score enough points to win this game,” Menominee coach Sam Larson said. “In the third quarter, I thought that we came out and ran hard, and that sparked our energy. We were able to take a three-point lead and do an okay job at closing things out. We weren’t perfect for the whole game, but we were pretty darn good for the majority of it.”
Menominee (14-10) jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first quarter before the Mountaineers fired off five unanswered points to take a one-point lead.
Tanner Theuerkauf sank a pair of free throws to hand the lead back to the Maroons before a layup by Matthew Colavecchi tied the game up at 7-7. Trevor Theuerkauf drilled a 3-pointer to put Menominee on top by three, but a second-chance bucket from Oskar Kangas once again made it a one-point game.
A layup from Tanner Theuerkauf gave Menominee a three-point lead at the end of the first quarter, but the Mountaineers clawed back to seize a 14-12 lead off a triple by Kaden Sheldon.
Trevor Theuerkauf answered with a trey of his own as the lead changed hands for the fourth time before a layup by Kangas kicked off a run of eight unanswered points by the Mountaineers, who surged ahead 22-15.
Darrent Butler drilled a 3-pointer to pull Menominee within four at halftime.
“We were very disciplined in our gameplan tonight. We did a great job of taking away some of the actions that Iron Mountain wanted to go to. They’re a good team, and any time you put a good team against the wall, they’ll fight back and I thought that Iron Mountain did a very good job of doing that,” Larson said.
Friday’s game was a measure of revenge for the Maroons, who fell 70-62 to the Mountaineers in the regular season. In that game, Gerald Sampoll-Torres and Joey Colavecchi combined to score 34 points, but the duo was held to a combined 12 points on Friday.
Reece Kangas led Iron Mountain with 14 points. Oskar Kangas was held to 13 points after dropping 24 in the teams’ first matchup.
“Putting Trev on the point guard (Sampoll-Torres) made life difficult for him. He got a couple early, but when Trev works like he did tonight, he’s a really tough guy to get shots off against,” Larson said. “Eli Beal did a nice job on (Oskar) Kangas, and Kaden Starzynski and Landan Bardowksi were so good with help-defense. That made a huge difference in clogging up the things Iron Mountain wanted to offensively.”
Trevor Theuerkauf topped Menominee’s scorebook with 19 points, while Tanner backed him up with 15 points of his own. Coduti chipped in nine, Starzynski finished with six, while Bardowski and Beal both had four.
Menominee lost plenty of talent from a team that went 23-4 and reached the Division 3 State Championship game last season, and but this year’s young Maroon squad is beginning to emerge from that squad’s considerable shadow.
“Obviously, last year was a special group and had incredible success, but for this group to turn around this year and write their own story is a huge testament to the character and work ethic of these guys, because that is not an easy thing to do,” Larson said.
Menominee 60, Iron Mountain 54
Menominee 12 6 22 20 — 60
Iron Mountain 9 13 13 19 — 54
Menominee: Tr. Theuerkauf 19, Ta. Theuerkauf 15, Coduti 9, Starzynski 6, Bardowski 4, Beal 4, Butler 3; FTs: 7-13
Iron Mountain: R. Kangas 14, O. Kangas 13, M. Colavecchi 12, Sampoll-Torres 8, J. Colavecchi 4, Sheldon 3; FTs: 12-15