HARRIS - Rivalry game or not, the North Central Jets don't miss a beat. The fans came out in force for both schools during Friday night's dual conference showdown with Bark River-Harris, but the Jets never wavered playing the neighboring Broncos, as they rolled to 84-41 victory.
The game was highlighted by the return of forward Travis Vincent who returned from a high ankle sprain after missing only two games. Vincent showed no signs of the injury Friday night, unleashing his usual arsenal of putbacks, zone breaks and rebounding.
"A lot of people didn't expect to see me out here tonight, but I'm a fast healer," Vincent said. "It healed up pretty quick. I taped it up and put a brace on it and it felt pretty good actually."
Jon Young | Daily Press
North Central’s Josh Granquist (20) goes for a lay-up against Austin Strahl (22) of Bark River-Harris during the second quarter of Friday’s game at Bark River.
Jon Young | Daily Press
North Central’s Travis Vincent (24) works in the post against Kyle Kleiman (42) of Bark River-Harris during the second quarter of Friday’s game at Bark River-Harris.
In the two games without Vincent, who averages over 19 points per game, the Jets scored 89 against Mid Peninsula and 59 against North Dickinson.
"I'm not the only player," said Vincent. "We have a lot of good players on our team and they stepped up and played really well without me. It was a lot of icing, a lot of heat, a lot of everything (to get back on the court). We practiced all week and we knew Bark River-Harris was a tough opponent, but we got here and played our game and came out to win."
The Jets shot very well throughout, driving through the Broncos zone as well as hitting shots from the perimeter, but everything got started on the defensive end as Josh Granquist and Jason Whitens got things rolling with a flurry of steals and blocks.
N. Central 21 26 17 20 - 84
BR-Harris 8 14 13 6 - 41
North Central - Polfus 12, J. Whitens 15, R. Granquist 7, J. Granquist 15, Vincent 15, Martin 12, Ekberg 6, Prestay 2; FT: 19-26; F: 18; Fouled out: None; 3-point field goals: Polfus 2, R. Granquist.
Bark River-Harris - Welch 2, Teeple 4, Strahl 3, Sodergren 6, Willa 9, Getchell 2, Emmes 2, Kleiman 7, Wallace 6; FT: 10-19; F: 24; Fouled out: Teeple (3:47, 4th quarter); 3-point field goals: Teeple.
"Josh Granquist's defense set the tone for the night," said Jets head coach Adam Mericer. "His on the ball defense was impeccable. He got a couple steals in transition and some easy baskets. I'm glad we rested him a little on Tuesday because he had fresh legs tonight."
After one quarter, the Jets held a commanding 21-8 lead and had control of virtually every aspect of the game. Vincent entered the game midway through the first quarter and hit a quick driving layup to get things going. He finished with 15 points as five Jets scored in double figures.
"They have a good team and they came out and shot the ball well," said Broncos head coach Tom Lindquist. "After the first quarter we were alright. We went to the zone a little while and they just hit their shots.
"It's one of those games where you have to play turnover free basketball and we had some turnovers that they capitalized off of. We missed a lot easy shots inside and they just out-rebounded us. They're a well-balanced team and I have to give them a lot of credit."
The Jets' tight man-to-man defense seemed to frustrate the Broncos who looked tentative. BR-H didn't have many good looks. Indecisiveness in the offensive zone often resulted in a turnover and sometimes a racing Granquist going back the other way for two points.
Josh Granquist and Jason Whitens each had 15 points, Tyler Polfus, who got the start Friday night and Caleb Martin added 12 points apiece.
"We had great flow to the game early on. Our fans had a lot of energy and we fed off it," said Mericer. "We shot the ball well to start and we had really good things happen. We had good team depth and when we pass the ball and move it, we're tough to cover. It starts on the defensive end. We make things tough with our length and our speed. That has to be a staple moving forward."
The Broncos were led by Branden Willa's nine points and Kyle Kleiman added seven.
Though the Jets won by over 40 points, the game never went to a running clock as North Central did not reach it's margin of victory until the final two minutes of the game.
Coming up for the Jets is two tough games next week. North Central will play at Carney-Nadeau on Tuesday before hosting the undefeated Forest Park Trojans on Friday.
The Jets won the jayvee game 83-53 with Dawson Bilski scoring 28 points.
"It's a great three game stretch," said Mericer. "We circled this on our calendar because we knew we'd be tested in these three games mentally and physically, and it comes at the perfect time, when we're starting to come into our own. We're going to play hard and teams are going to challenge what we have to offer. We're looking forward to a great atmosphere in both games.
Bark River-Harris travels to Munising, Tuesday.