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D3 FINALS: Pewamo-Westphalia claims first hoops title, edging unbeaten Iron Mountain on controversial call

By: Scott Burnstein, March 16, 2019, 8:00 pm

EAST LANSING — Pewamo-Westphalia pulled a rabbit out of a hat with a little help from the referees Saturday to win a Division 3 boys state championship in a battle of unbeaten clubs.

Pirates senior point guard Collin Trierweiler buried a pair of free throws with less than a second left (0.07) to send Pewamo-Westphalia to a 53-52 win over Iron Mountain for its first boys hoop state title in school history, after officials whistled a controversial intentional foul at half court.

Iron Mountain was ahead for most of the night and Trierweiler’s game winning free throws gave the Pirates their first lead of the second half. All of Trierweiler’s six points came in the final 30 seconds.

“I tried to calm myself down by thinking of being in my driveway shooting free throws with my brother, I thought of the trees in my yard, I got out of my own head and just put them in,” he said.

Mere moments before Trierweiler’s trip to the line, it appeared as if Iron Mountain had won it when all-state floor general Marcus Johnson fed forward Tony Feira for a breakaway lay-up with 5.3 seconds remaining. But the referees whistled a travel and Pewamo-Westphalia (27-0) got the ball back under the Iron Mountain basket. Johnson was then called for intentionally fouling Trierweiler at half court on a play that looked suspect at best.

Longtime Iron Mountain coach Harvey Johnson, Marcus’ dad, was steaming at the postgame press conference.

“They called a travel on a made bucket and they called a flagrant foul on a play on the ball, next question,” a clearly furious Johnson said. “To have a state championship come down to that, it’s tough. I’m angry. I respect officials, but judgement is critical. I get that these things are part of the game, it just stinks to be on this end of it. You’ve got to be able to let things go, you’ve got to be able to forgive. … I don’t know. Everyone saw what happened.”

Pewamo-Westphalia coach Luke Pohl was gracious when discussing the game’s emotional final sequence.

“My heart goes out to those guys, it was a tough, tough call,” he said. “Emotions were high. I’’ll leave it at that.”

Iron Mountain (26-1) was on top 26-21 at halftime and 40-35 after three quarters when the younger Johnson drained a step-back triple from the left wing with 2.7 seconds to go in the frame. Johnson netted 17 points.

Sophomore forward Foster Wonders, one of the best sophomores in the state, tallied a team-high 20 points for Iron Mountain. Wonders’ pair from the stripe with 21.4 seconds remaining gave the Mountaineers a 52-49 lead. Trierweiler’s second straight driving lay-in made it 52-51 with 11.5 ticks on the clock.

Andre Smith’s 21 points headed the Pewamo-Westphalia offense. His Pirates’ teammate, forward Aaron Bearss booked 15 points and 8 rebounds in the win.

“It was an amazing game,” Pohl said. “You expect when its two undefeated teams playing for a state title that it will come down to the last possession. Collin (Trierweiler) just makes plays. He’s been dealing with injuries all postseason, but he just guts games out.”

Pohl has been on the bench at the helm of the Pirates program for 22 years. The 2014 squad lost to future NBA lottery pick Josh Jackson (Phoenix Suns) and Detroit Consortium 61-44 in the state finals.