POWERS - The No. 1-ranked North Central Jets defense set the tone early and their offense followed suit as they rolled to a 80-50 CUP/Skyline victory over rival Bark River-Harris on Friday night.
North Central used their trap to give the Broncos fits on offense as they jumped out to a 13-0 lead. Junior Josh Granquist netted nine points for the Jets during the run, including back-to-back steals that led to lay-ups.
"Our defensive intensity to start the game was good," said Jets head coach Adam Mercier. "We were hustling and getting after them. I don't know how many steals we had, but it was the most steals we had in quite a bit of games so I was pretty happy with that."
Jon Young | Daily Press
North Central’s Rob Granquist (15) goes up for two points in the first quarter as Jorden Sodergren (23) of Bark River-Harris looks on during Friday’s game at North Central.
Jon Young | Daily Press
Kyle Kleiman (42) of Bark River-Harris shoots over Trevor Ekberg (40) of North Central during the second half of Friday’s game at North Central. Kleiman led the Broncos with 17 points.
The Broncos stopped the bleeding in the first quarter on a 3-pointer from Austin Strahl with 3:30 left to play.
North Central's Josh Granquist responded on the following play as he connected on a corner 3-pointer to give his team a 16-3 lead. The senior guard netted 15 points, matching a season high he set earlier this season against the Broncos.
"Josh is starting to play well for us right now offensively and that's big to our success to have Josh being able to soften up the defense," Mercier said. "He had his best offensive game tonight and he works so hard on defense it was nice to see him hit some shots from outside."
North Central 25 16 19 20 - 80
BR-Harris 9 12 20 19 - 50
North Central - R. Whitens 2, Polfus 2, R. Granquist 15, J. Granquist 14, Vincent 18, J. Whitens 11, Martin 3, Ekberg 13, Prestay 2; FT: 11-17; F: 19; Fouled out: Caleb Martin; 3-point field goals: R. Granquist 2, J. Granquist 2, Ekberg 1.
Bark River-Harris - Welch 2, Strahl 10, Sodergren 15, Willa 2, Emmes 2, Kleiman 17, Wallace 2; FT: 12-23; F: 17; Fouled out: None; 3-point field goals: Strahl 2.
The Jets built a 25-9 lead after a quarter of play and used their pressure and a balanced scoring attack to push their lead to 41-21 by half-time. All five North Central starters scored in double figures tonight, led by Travis Vincent with 18 points.
"We were pretty efficient in our half-court sets tonight but also when we started to run," Mercier said. "We were able to share the ball and that was nice to see out of the guys tonight."
Without a backup point guard, the Broncos had to rely heavily on Jorden Sodergren. The junior guard ran the offense the entire game, facing a press and double teams a majority of the time.
"We wanted to use our athleticism as much as we could to get the tempo in our favor and extend their offense a little bit out," Mercier said. "(Kyle) Kleiman and (Branden) Willa are strong underneath so we wanted to make sure they didn't get open touches inside, as much as possible."
The Broncos, who haven't played in a week, were able to settle down in the third quarter and used a 8-0 run to cut the Jets lead to 52-39 with just under two minutes left in the quarter.
BR-H head coach Tom Lindquist said his team looked rusty in the first but he was pleased with their overall effort.
"North Central, obvisiouly they're not the number one ranked team for no reason, they're a great team," Lindquist said. "I thought my kids played them a heck of a lot better here then we played them at home the first time."
North Central weathered the Broncos run with a 8-2 run of their own to close out the third quarter and take a 60-41 lead into the final eight minutes.
The Broncos struggled to get into their offense as the Jets extended their pressure past the perimeter. BR-H center Branden Willa was held to two points and didn't get his first shot attempt until the final 30 seconds of the second quarter.
"They played us tough on top and they knew I had to play Jordan most of the game," Lindquist said. "I thought he might of got tired and sometimes on offense we didn't run it the way we were suppose to. Brandon is good at setting screens and rolling and we never got to that point."
Nine of the 10 North Central players who saw the court scored in the win. The Jets improve to 18-0 overall, 11-0 in the CUP and 12-0 in the Skyline. They're back in action next Tuesday as they travel to Forest Park. Bark River-Harris drops to 9-9 overall, 5-6 in the CUP and 6-6 in the Skyline. The Broncos are back in action this Tuesday as they travel to North Dickinson.
"I was pretty happy with our overall effort and energy our guys exerted tonight," Mercier said. "It was a nice team win at home against a rival, so I was very happy with that."