FELCH - North Central did everything it shouldn't but the Baylee Wells-powered Jets still found a way to hold off North Dickinson 65-57 in Skyline Conference girls basketball Tuesday at Carl F. Lemin Gymnasium.
Coach Nikki Laurila warned her once-beaten Jets about fouls and rebounds.
"I told them before the game, 'don't foul and don't let them get offensive boards or else they're going to stay in the game with us,' and that's what happened," Laurila said.
Burt Angeli | Iron Mountain Daily News
North Central’s Baylee Wells splits North Dickinson’s defense in Tuesday’s Skyline Conference game at Felch.
Wells whipped in 26 points, Dana Rochon added 15 and Darcy Rochon tallied 10 points, six assists and five steals along with a dandy poke to the nose in the first quarter.
"They outrebounded us and our defense just wasn't there," Laurila said. "We missed our free throws (15) and that was big."
Sophomore Miranda Jacobson's 20 points and 18 rebounds triggered the Nordics, who trailed by three with less than a minute in the game.
North Central 17 15 13 20 - 65
North Dickinson 13 21 11 12 - 57
NORTH CENTRAL: Faccio 4, Rochon 15, Campbell 3, LaBonte 7, Wells 26, Rochon 10. FT: 14-29. F: 17. Fouled out: LaBonte (4:25, 4th).
NORTH DICKINSON: Cary 2, Rotter 8, Steele 7, Starnes 2, Jacobson 20, Charlevoix 4, Stroud 10, Steele 2, Jauquet 2. FT: 12-15. F: 19.
3-point FG: Rotter 2, Steele. FG shooting: North Central 24-56, North Dickinson 21-58. Rebounding: North Dickinson 34 (Jacobson 18), North Central 31 (Campbell 8)
"Jacobson had a big game for us," Nordics coach Mike Roell said. "It could have went either way. We were one possession away right to the very end."
North Dickinson, at times looking like the best winless Class D team in the state, held a 34-32 halftime lead. The score was deadlocked at 45-45 after three quarters.
"I thought we competed, definitely a step in the right direction," Roell said. "We handled the ball better and we were more patient on offense. On defense, we were more aggressive (in the man).
"The kids played hard. We were right in it until the end."
A Gina Rotter triple with 1:36 remaining shaved North Central's lead to 58-55. The Jets then wrapped it up with a 7-2 run as Wells nailed a basket and Darcy Rochon converted five of six free throws.
North Central is trying to adapt with leading scorer Morgan Wells (ankle) sidelined. The Nordics riddled the Jets' 1-3-1- zone in the first half.
"We started out with the 1-3-1 and we've been playing really good defense with that," Laurila said. "But now we've had to adjust after losing Morgan. She's a big rebounder and a big part of our press.
"We have a good bench so we should be able to adapt."
Roell cited Wells, one of three senior starters, and a couple crucial ball-handling mistakes for the more experienced Jets to come out on top.
"Wells was outstanding," Roell said. "She definitely picked it up for them."
North Dickinson, with some sharp passing for buckets, tallied 10 points and five assists from sophomore Chelsey Stroud. Jacobson also handed out four assists.
"I'm happy with the way we played tonight," Roell said. "It was definitely a good game going into the break.
"We keep working like this we'll be OK."
Both teams are idle until Jan. 4 with North Central (6-1 overall, 3-1 Skyline) traveling to Munising and North Dickinson (0-6, 0-3) hosting Stephenson.
North Central's junior varsity, behind Audra Granquist's 19 points and Jaycee Faccio's 12, defeated North Dickinson 44-29. Maria Roell led the Nordics with eight.