POWERS - The North Central Jets started their season off Monday night with a convincing win over the Stephenson Eagles, 61-48.
Rob Granquist of the Jets put in a quick hoop to get things rolling. Then the Eagles had multiple chances to get a bucket as they snagged repeated offensive boards. However, they appeared to have some first game jitters, as they had several turnovers throughout the opening quarter.
The Jets ran out to a quick 7-0 lead before Casey Wilson finally got the Eagles a score. Then teammate Austin Grinsteiner put in another basket and was fouled in the act. After converting on the three-point play, the Eagles were right back in it. But the Jets regained control quickly as they began an 8-0 run to close out the quarter.
North Central’s Travis Vincent (24) gets a block on Stephenson’s Austin Grinsteiner during the first half Monday night at North Central.?The Jets won 61-48.
North Central's Caleb Martin hit two jumpers, one of them faking his opponent nearly out of his sneakers. That was followed up when Rob Granquist sprinted down the lane and made a tough bucket on a double-pump shot to give his Jets a 15-5 lead.
Travis Vincent of the Jets began to make his defensive presence known in the second quarter, as he came up with his first big block of the night. However, the Eagles were able to find their footing on offense, and bounced back in a big way. Grinsteiner added two points, then Kyle Rabouin knocked down an uncontested three-pointer.
The Jets were determined to not let their lead slip away so easily. Martin had a nice putback bucket, and on their following possession, Tyler Polfus nailed a triple from about 25 feet out. Raboin scored on an easy layup, but Vincent came up with another big rejection that flew out of bounds.
Stephenson 5 15 14 14 - 48
North Central 15 9 17 20 - 61
Stephenson: Joslin 3, Brock 2, Raboin 7, Wangerin 6, Wilson 11, Grinsteiner 18, Eckert 1; FT: 11-19; F: 17; Fouled out: Raboin; 3-point field goals: Joslin, Raboin, Grinsteiner
North Central: Polfus 12, Martin 11, R. Granquist 17, J. Granquist 7, Vincent 13, Prestay 2; FT: 9-16; F: 19; Fouled out: none; 3-point field goals: Polfus 2
Raboin and Grinsteiner continued to fight their way back fr the Eagles, adding a few more buckets. Raboin hit a nice fade-away jumper, and Stephenson did a good job of getting to the free-throw line to cut it to 24-20 at the half.
Grinsteiner opened up the third with a huge three-pointer to make it a one-point game. But the Jets' high-octane offense continued, and that would be the closest Stephenson would get to a lead.
Every time the momentum was about to shift, North Central was able to come up with a big play to silence the visiting fans. Vincent tipped a rebound back in, and then Rob Granquist rose up and hit a jumper in the lane despite being fouled. That was followed by another Vincent block and a Granquist layup to keep the game in NCA's hands.
Stephenson ended the quarter with a good effort; Skyler Joslin hit a triple, and the Eagles had time for one more play before the quarter ended. They were called for traveling, but Wangerin came up with a steal and ran down for a layup to beat the buzzer.
The final quarter began with the Jets leading 41-34. If the Eagles were going to win, they had to shut down the Jets offense. Granquist had other ideas, as he put up nine more points and North Central outscored the Eagles 20-14 to close out the game 61-48.
"That is a good win," said Granquist. "They're a physical team. It's good to get a win on our home court."
He added that they went a lot harder to keep the Eagles' offensive rebounding to a minimum in the second half, and their defense made the difference.
The team leader on defense, Vincent, said that Stephenson is a really good team, and strong defense was the only way to win.
"We needed to play like that to stop them," he said.
Opening up the season on the road, Stephenson coach Kurt Wangerin was happy with his team's play.
"For the first game, I thought they played well," he said. "We just got beat on fast breaks in the second half. Turnovers also hurt us. If we could control those, I feel we would've been right in the game."
Jets coach Adam Mercier said he was really excited about how his young team played.
"Give (the Eagles) credit, they pushed us to the limit with offensive rebounds and their physicality, but we made some good plays in the fourth quarter," he said. "They played smart and got some second-effort points which I thought helped us pull away in the end."
The Jets jayvees also won their game, but scores were not available.
North Central resumes Thursday when they host Rapid River.