FELCH - Baylee Wells and the North Central Jets simply couldn't miss. Blasting heat-seeking missiles from downtown from the start of the game on, the Jets' girls shot the lights out and rolled 77-49 over North Dickinson Monday night in a Class D district opener.
North Central (13-8) got off to a blazing start when they opened the game on a 10-2 run in less than two minutes. They finished the quarter 24-10 as Baylee Wells was a perfect 4-for-4 from the three-point arc in the quarter and the cheers grew louder with each triple she sank. She finished with a game-leading 20 points, including six 3-pointers, and led four Jets in double figures.
"This is a gym I usually shoot pretty well in so I was excited for this game," said a confident Baylee Wells after the game. "I wasn't expecting it at all, but I'm glad I shot pretty good. We decided to come in here for districts and just play hard."
Keith Shelton |?Daily Press
North Central’s Kennedy Faccio powers past North Dickinson defenders Chelsey Stroud, left and Gina Rotter on her way to the basket Monday night at Felch. The Jets won 77-49
Just who were these North Central Jets and where did this outburst come from? Head coach Nikki Laurila knew.
"I knew they had it in them," she said. "I tell them to play the type of basketball I know you can play. It was a good performance tonight.
"We've had trouble shooting, but Baylee was 100% at halftime, Darcy Rochon had some three's and it was so great to see so many kids in double figures. I knew it was there and I had a good feeling coming in after we had a really good practice. I knew we'd play well."
N. Central 24 23 12 18 - 77
N. Dickinson 10 13 21 5 - 49
NORTH CENTRAL - Dana Rochon 2, M. Wells 17, Campbell 17, LaBonte 2, B. Wells 20, Darcy Rochon 19; FT: 9-17; F: 15; Fouled out: LaBonte; 3-point field goals: B. Wells 6, Darcy Rochon 2.
NORTH DICKINSON - Steele 7, Jacobson 17, Charlevoix 9, Stroud 13, Jauquet 3; FT: 6-12; F: 17; Fouled out: none; 3-point field goals: STroud 3.
The Jets continued to pour it on in the second quarter and led 47-23 at halftime, having shot 7-for-8 from beyond the arc.
However, the young but talented Nordics (5-15) weren't ready to throw in the towel.
Facing a 24-point deficit, the Nordics came out on fire to start the third quarter. Miranda Jacobson hit a quick layup and Lexi Steele drove hard to the basket and drew the foul for the 3-point play. Directly after, Steele swiped the ball and turned back around for another bucket. and in the opening 45 seconds, the Nordics had scored seven points. They weren't done either. A Jets timeout did little to slow the Nordics comeback blitzkrieg as they embarked on a 19-4 run to start the quarter off. With about 1:30 left to go in the quarter, the Jets 24-point lead had become just nine. (51-42).
"We played a great third quarter. I challenged the girls and said we can give up or we can get back in it," said Nordics coach Mike Roell. "I thought we could cut the margin in half and maybe make a run in the fourth quarter. We really came out with a lot of heart and played really well in the third quarter."
But the experienced Jets ensured that would be as close as the Nordics came.
With Siena LaBonte picking up her fourth foul at the start of the third quarter, the Jets put Sydney Campbell on the court for extended amounts of time, with spectacular results. She was a dominating presence inside, getting rebounds and putbacks and coming away with a career-high 17 points off the bench. Darcy Rochon also hit a career-high with a 19-point effort, including two triples, as she racked up plenty of points on the fast break off uncontested layups. Morgan Wells added 17 points.
By the end of the third quarter, the Jets had regained a 15-point lead.
"Syd poured it in. She was a monster on the boards down there and she had that shot down, banking it off the glass and taking it hard to the hole," said Laurila. "And Darcy, the past four games she's been there as a solid consistent player. I knew she'd carry that into districts. She's playing really well right now and she's really made herself into a great player. I'm really proud of her."
The Nordics were led by Miranda Jacobson's 17 points and 10 rebounds. Chelsey Stroud added 13 points with six rebounds. But North Dickinson was hurt by its 30 turnovers.
"A lot of their baskets came off turnovers in the first half," said Roell. "When they got running and they get into a flow, they can shoot the ball and their 3-point shooters were burying them. That big lead was too much. Nikki had them well-prepared and they have the talent to go a ways if they can put it together."
Roell and the Nordics have a lot to look forward to next season as they will return all five starters with a solid core to build around.
"We start a freshman, three sophomores and a junior and they will all come back. We're going to be alright," he said.
North Central will host Hannahville Wednesday evening. With a victory they will face the winner of Wednesday night's game between Bark River-Harris and Mid Peninsula in the title game Friday night.