RAPID RIVER - On a night where neither team had much success from the field, speedy transition baskets gave the Bark River-Harris Broncos just enough of an advantage to beat the Rapid River Rockets 43-27 Monday in a dual Skyline/Central U.P. conference matchup.
"It wasn't the prettiest game," said Broncos coach Matt Richer. "But I'd rather have an ugly game where you win than you lose. It was a physical game both ways, but we've got a lot of improvements to make."
Right from the start, it seemed as though both teams were trying to get a feel for their opponent more than anything else. But as soon as Jake Pearson knocked down the first point of the game on a free throw, things got much more physical in a hurry. It seemed as though there was contact or a block on nearly every shot attempt that went up.
Justin Marietti | Daily Press
John Norman of Bark River-Harris makes his move to the basket as Hayden Hardwick (30) and Robert Metter (24) look on during the first quarter Tuesday, in Rapid River. The Broncos won 43-27.
The first quarter ended with the Broncos clinging to just an 8-5 lead. The pace picked up in the second quarter, once both teams had become adjusted to their opponent. With both teams letting their defense lead the way, it was neck and neck throughout much of the quarter. The Rockets were able to tie the game twice, due in part to solid play on both ends by Hayden Hardwick, who had three big blocks in the second.
The Rockets had cut the deficit, and it was just 17-15 with time winding down in the half. Just when it felt the momentum was shifting in favor of the Rockets, they couldn't get the ball in the hole. They had two opportunities to tie the game before the half, but their inability to convert on field goals helped BR-H go into halftime with a narrow 19-15 lead.
"We needed to create easy opportunities, and Brian Latta came in in the third quarter and gave us a defensive spark," Richer said. "He helped to control the point a little bit. He didn't score a lot, but he really changed the game with his energy level."
Rapid River 5 10 4 8 - 27
Bark River-Harris 8 11 8 16 - 43
Rapid River: Bero 5, Orth 4, Pearson 5, Metter 4, Hardwick 9; FT: 8-11; F: 12; Fouled out: Hardwick; 3-point field goals: Bero
Bark River-Harris: Welch 18, VanBrocklin 7, Strahl 1, Sundling 1, Kleiman 5, Latta 2, Norman 9; FT: 10-22; F: 13; 3-point field goals: Welch
The third quarter was almost identical to the first, as both teams had difficulty finding open shots. The Rockets scored only four points, and the Broncos put up eight. Heading into the fourth, it was 27-19, and still anyone's game.
Rapid River's Lucas Bero opened up the final quarter with a triple, and it immediately energized the Rockets team. They were getting themselves chances to get back into the game, but turnovers were a killer in the final quarter.
Nearly every time the Rockets missed a shot, the Broncos were able to convert on a quick transition bucket. BR-H's Cody Welch, who finished with 18 points, led the final charge that put the Rockets away. He had seven points in the fourth.
"(Cody's) a guy that played well at the jayvee level last year, and he's trying to grow into his role here at the varsity," Richer added. "He's a guy that can score. He's one of those young guys we might have to rely on. Until we can get everyone on the same page, he might have to be burdened a little more with the scoring punch."
Rapid River finished 8-of-49 from the field. A big part that came from not running on offense, said Rockets coach Craig Carter.
"We lacked movement, and we're tentative," he said. "We were evenly matched with (BR-H). I thought this would've been a good chance to get out of our early season slump, but they beat us pretty good."
Carter added that they weren't without success in some areas, but the shooting kept them out of contention.
"We rebounded the ball well," he said. "Eli (Orth) had 14, and Pearson had nine. But when you shoot around 16 percent, you're going to struggle."
The Broncos' jayvees also won their game, dropping the Rockets 59-8.
Both teams resume play Thursday; Rapid River (0-3, 0-3 Skyline, 0-3 CUP) hosts Forest Park, while the Broncos (1-1 all counts) head to Big Bay de Noc.