Wonders Gives Iron Mountain Lift in Overtime Climb

By Perry A. Farrell
Special for MHSAA.com

April 8, 2021

EAST LANSING – Schoolcraft presented a tall order in Thursday’s second Division 3 Semifinal.

With three players standing 6-foot-6 or taller, the Eagles soared over Iron Mountain in size.

But one advantage Iron Mountain had was Foster Wonders, a 6-5 senior guard with more than 2,000 career points who could see over the defense and wasn’t bashful about launching 3-pointers.

He kept the Mountaineers in the game, led them into overtime and all the way into Saturday’s Final against Flint Beecher – scoring 34 points total in a 54-50 thriller over Schoolcraft (19-2) at the Breslin Center.

“They were very physical, and they made it hard for us to do anything,’’ said Wonders, who was already thinking about Flint Beecher. “We changed the offense in the second half, and we were able to find some openings. I just tried to stay aggressive.’’

The Mountaineers (19-0) made their final push with under five minutes left in regulation on a 3-pointer by Ricky Brown to reduce the deficit to 33-32.

After a timeout, Wonders scored in the lane to give Iron Mountain a one-point lead.

However, Schoolcraft junior Ty Rykse and Wonders traded threes before senior Bryce VanderWiere scored inside to keep the Eagles up one.

Not to be denied, Wonders drained a triple, and the Mountaineers were up two, 40-38. Teammate Jurgen Kleiman scored inside while being fouled. He missed the free throw, but Iron Mountain was up four.

Schoolcraft’s Tyler DeGroote scored with 54.2 seconds left to cut the deficit in half. Each side turned the ball over before a steal and basket by Jonathon Able tied the score again with 24.3 left – and that’s where it would remain, forcing overtime.

2021 D3 Boys Basketball Semifinal - Iron Mountain

Wonders had scored 13 points in the fourth quarter, and he then made four free throws in overtime.

“He hit his average, an average game for Foster,’’ said coach Harvey Johnson. “You see FAMILY on the front of our warmups. These guys really love each other. We matched their physicality. We competed.”

Wonders scored six points in the first quarter to give the Mountaineers an 11-7 lead as Schoolcraft shot just 22.2 percent from the field during the opening period.

The Mountaineers held on to an 18-17 advantage at halftime, but Schoolcraft pulled ahead in the third quarter. Iron Mountain went on a scoring drought and Rykse’s floater put Schoolcraft up six, 30-24, late in the period as the Eagles seemed to wear down the Mountaineers and force most of their scoring to come from the outside.

With eight minutes left in regulation, Schoolcraft maintained its six-point lead. But Wonders scored five straight points to get Iron Mountain to within three, 32-29.

“I thought we did a pretty good job on him,’’ Schoolcraft coach Randy Small said of his team’s defense on Wonders. “He hit one from 28 feet. He made some big shots. We had a hard time scoring.’’

VanderWiere led Schoolcraft with 15 points, and freshman Shane Rykse added 14. Ty Rykse had 11, and VanderWiere also grabbed 10 rebounds.

Wonders sank 13 of 24 shots from the field, including 4-10 3-point attempts, and also grabbed eight rebounds.

Click for full box score

PHOTOS: (Top) Iron Mountain's Dante Basanese splits a pair of defenders in the lane during Thursday's Semifinal against Schoolcraft. (Middle) Schoolcraft's Tyler DeGroote and Iron Mountain's Bryce Pietrantonio battle for a loose ball. (Click for more from Hockey Weekly Action Photos.)

St. Clair County Celebrates 1st Mr. Basketball Winner, PHN's Jamison

By Paul Costanzo
Special for MHSAA.com

March 29, 2023

The Jamison family has spent plenty of time over the years driving long distances as Tyler chased his basketball dreams.

Bay & ThumbAfter the Port Huron Northern senior achieved one of the biggest ones, they had to put some more mileage on the family vehicle.

As the newly-crowned Mr. Basketball, Jamison was invited to a special presentation during the Boys Basketball Finals this past Saturday afternoon at the Breslin Center. It was an invitation Tyler and his family didn’t hesitate to accept, and the drive from Port Huron to East Lansing was nothing.

But it did cause a pretty big change to some other travel plans.

Tyler and his family were scheduled to fly to Florida on Friday for spring break. That flight had to be canceled, though, and instead, the family made the drive down later.

“There were some jokes about just leaving me and letting me find my own way down there,” Jamison said.

While they joke, there’s nowhere the Jamisons would have rather been Saturday than at the Breslin. As a true basketball family – Tyler’s dad Brian is also the coach at Northern, and his brother Alex was a standout freshman for the Huskies – they have a great appreciation for the Mr. Basketball Award and its significance.

“I had said a while ago, ‘Hey, if we’re still in the tournament, we’ll be playing Friday,” Brian Jamison said. “I even mentioned that it would be a miracle, but Tyler could win Mr. Basketball. Now we’re eating plane tickets and driving down to Florida. But it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and we’re not missing this.”

Jamison was the overwhelming winner of the award, which is named after Hal Schram and given out by the Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan. He received 3,058 points in the vote to become its 43rd winner. Curtis Williams of Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice (2,004 points), Kaden Brown of Grand Rapids Catholic Central (1,918), Sonny Wilson of Detroit U-D Jesuit (1,883) and Ryan Hurst of North Farmington (1,811) were the other finalists.

“It was just insane,” Tyler Jamison said. “I can’t even really put into words how I felt – it was just a dream come true, a culmination of all the hard work that’s been put in over the years. My mom was in the other room (when his dad called to tell him), and I just hugged her and we were kind of screaming. The dog was getting riled up. It was fun. There were a few tears shed.”

Jamison throws down a dunk.Jamison, who signed with Fairleigh Dickinson in December, finished the season averaging 26.7 points, 11.6 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 3.3 steals per game. He was named the Macomb Area Conference White division MVP after leading Northern to the league title and a 20-4 overall record.

Even with all that, winning the most prestigious individual basketball award in the state didn’t seem like a reality.

“We purposely try to play a tough schedule, and we purposely got into some showcases because we wanted people to see, not only him play, but us play,” Brian Jamison said. “We had beaten Skyline and Hamtramck, and went up to Croswell-Lexington and won up there, and I thought, ‘OK, now he’s done it against some of the better teams.’ Up to that point, when we played those tougher teams, he’s always showed out well, but it’s different when you’re not winning them. But at that point, I thought he had a chance. Really, I was just hoping he would get on the list. To win it was kind of above and beyond what I had hoped for.”

On the court, Tyler’s impact on the program was pretty obvious and immediate.

He’s the program’s all-time leading scorer – a record he set as a junior – with 1,763 career points. He also holds Northern records for career rebounds (825), points in a game (59), rebounds in a game (28), career field goals made (638) and career free throws made (439). As a junior, he was named MAC Blue MVP.

Northern did not lose a league game in either of the past two seasons.

But Northern is likely to see future success because of Tyler’s non-statistical impact.

Leading a young team, including a group of star freshmen – his brother Alex, Cam Harju and Amir Morelan – was a major part of Tyler’s job this season.

Northern’s home games were must-see events this winter, as the Huskies were one of Division 1’s top teams, and Tyler was providing nightly highlights and must-see performances. Even in his final game, a loss against Macomb Dakota in the District Final, Jamison treated the standing-room crowd with a 46-point performance and a halfcourt shot at the third-quarter buzzer in a valiant effort.

“That’s the big thing, you want the students and the school community to support you, and they did an amazing job,” Tyler Jamison said. “We also had people from the community that wanted to support us and watch us play. Port Huron High had a really good season, too, and I think both schools in the city had that public support. That’s huge. It makes you feel like you’re playing for more than yourself.”

Among those crowds were the next generation of Huskies, some of whom were coached by Tyler in youth basketball. As he’s the first Mr. Basketball winner from St. Clair County, those kids now have a hometown example of someone who has reached the highest heights.

“I think interest gets sparked when the little kids come to the gym, like, ‘Hey, I want to do that,’” Brian Jamison said. “They want to play for Northern or (Port Huron) High. And with him winning Mr. Basketball, I think it gives kids a little bit of ‘Hey, why not me?’ I do think it helps motivate younger people. We’ve had great crowds at our games. I think the area is excited about basketball. It really is a great basketball area.”

With all of that excitement surrounding him, Tyler had one more challenge after the season – keeping the secret that he had won. He found out six days before the award was announced.

“It was terrible – especially when it’s something of that magnitude,” he said. “You want to tell everyone. You want to tell your friends and family. It was hard to be like, ‘No, I don’t know.’”

Paul CostanzoPaul Costanzo served as a sportswriter at The Port Huron Times Herald from 2006-15, including three years as lead sportswriter, and prior to that as sports editor at the Hillsdale Daily News from 2005-06. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Genesee, Lapeer, St. Clair, Sanilac, Huron, Tuscola, Saginaw, Bay, Arenac, Midland and Gladwin counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Tyler Jamison, second from left, with his parents and brother, stands with his newly-received Mr. Basketball Award trophy during the ceremony at the Detroit Free Press. (Middle) Jamison throws down a dunk. (Photos courtesy of the Jamison family.)