By John Vrancic
RAPID RIVER - It can be hard to beat the same team three times in the same season.
Paul Gerard photo
Big Bay de Noc’s Patience Harris drives the ball past Rapid River defender Maddy Moss, during their District 125 semifinal game, Wednesday night at Rapid River. The Black Bears advanced with a 47-39 victory.
Paul Gerard photo
Superior Central’s Molly Swajanen attempts a 3-pointer as Karlee Decet of Munising defends, Wednesday night at Rapid River
The Superior Central and Big Bay de Noc girls were reminded just how difficult that is after posting victories Wednesday night in the Class D district basketball tournament.
Superior Central held off a determined Munising team 50-40 in the opener for its third victory over the Mustangs this year.
Big Bay struggled past Rapid River 47-39 in the nightcap, completing its three-game season sweep of the Rockets.
Munising 9 7 10 14 - 40
Sup Central 13 10 7 20 - 50
Munising - Immel 12, Mattson 13, Cornish 3, Decet 12. FT: 4-8; F: 16; Fouled out: None; 3-point field goals: Mattson 2, Immel.
Superior Central - Tyner 13, Pasanen 19, Freberg 16, Emard 2. FT: 11-19; F: 13; Fouled out: None; 3-point field goals: Pasanen 2, Freberg.
Big Bay de Noc 6 11 18 12 - 47
Rapid River 9 6 14 14 - 39
Big Bay de Noc - LaLonde 3, P. Harris 11, Rochefort 2, Cayemberg 5, Sundling 12, Thompson 12, T. Harris 1, Sefcik 1. FT: 17-26; F: 21; Fouled out: Yonker; 3-point field goals: LaLonde, Sundling.
Rapid River - Evans 5, Kanyuk 19, Rubick 2, Moss 1, Miller 4, Viau 2, Brockway 6. FT: 14-24; F: 18; Fouled out: Rubick, Moss; 3-point field goals: Kanyuh 3.
The winners return to the Rapid River High School gym for the title game Friday at 7 p.m.
In the opener, Munising (14-7) was within 27-26 with 35.8 seconds left in the third quarter when freshman guard Marissa Immel converted a layup.
Senior guard Brooke Pasanen then sank a jump shot from top of the key just 12 seconds later, giving the second-ranked Cougars a 30-26 lead.
The Cougars (19-2) extended their lead to 33-26 just 25 seconds into the fourth stanza on a jumper from the right corner by senior forward Vanessa Freberg
Senior guard Teslyn Tyner then gave the Cougars a 35-26 cushion on a short running jumper on a pass from Pasanen with 6:49 left in the contest.
"Brooke's three was a big turning point," said Cougars' coach Greg Trowbridge. "Vanessa's three was also big. We tried to set that up for her."
Immel drained a set shot from top of the key to pull the Mustangs within 35-29 with 5:37 remaining.
Freberg, however, hit a pair of free throws moments later to put the Cougars up 37-29.
"We just didn't play up to our potential," said Freberg, who scored 16 points. "We had some pre-game jitters. But I think we settled down a little when we got the seven-point lead early in the fourth quarter. I think that kind of reminded us that we can do it."
Pasanen hit 19 points, including 3-of-4 free throws in the final 87 seconds, to go with six steals. Tyner, who picked up her fourth foul with 1:58 left in the third frame, finished with 13 points.
"Brooke had a real good ball game," said Trowbridge. "We could see when Teslyn went out, they wanted to run. Munising has a nice team. They played a pretty good ball game. They're going to be a team to watch in the future."
Freshman forward Frankie Mattson led Munising with 13 points and nine rebounds and Immel hit 12 points. Junior reserve Karlee Decet also had 12 points, including a putback to pull the Mustangs within 43-38 with 1:48 remaining in the contest.
"We handled their pressure much better than we did earlier in the season," said Munising coach Matt Mattson. "We appreciate the fact our girls fought so hard. I think (Superior Central's) experience made a big difference in the end. They've been doing this a long time. They're a good basketball team. They're also a class act. I hope they make a deep run into the tournament."
The Cougars held a 24-22 rebounding edge, hit 18-of-42 field goals and committed 17 turnovers. Munising was 16-of-43 from the field and had 21 miscues.
"We had a nice season," said Mattson. "If somebody told me at the beginning of the season we were going to win 14 games this year, I wouldn't have believed it. We have a lot of kids coming back. Our seniors accepted the younger kids and showed great leadership."
In the nightcap, sophomore guard Hannah Kanyuh sank a floater from the lane to pull Rapid River within 39-37 with 3:12 left to play.
The score stayed that way until the 1:35 mark when junior guard Patience Harris hit a seven-foot running jumper and free throw to put the Black Bears up 42-37.
"We made little smarter passes in the end," said Big Bay coach Ryan Knoph. "We also put Patience and Heather (LaLonde) and Kanyah and I think that flustered her a little. We told the girls they were a dangerous team because they had nothing to lose."
Big Bay secured the decision by scoring the last five points of the contest.
"We did real well in the end," said Knoph. "We stayed focused and our seniors kind of took over a little bit. They slowed things down when they were supposed to."
Senior forward Samantha Sundling and guard Chelsea Thompson scored 12 points each and Harris had 11 for the Black Bears (4-17), who sank 14-of-49 field goals and had 13 turnovers.
Kanyuh scored 19 points for the Rockets (0-21), who were 11-of-39 from the floor and had 17 miscues.
"Hannah has been our rock all season," said Rockets' coach Michelle Carne. "She's heck of an athlete and ballplayer. Her 3-point shots in the first quarter got us going. We have other people who can score, too. But down the stretch, things didn't go in our favor. We had to pull some kids up (from jayvees) and put them in situations they're not used to. Overall, I thought our girls played heck of a game. Our goal was to contain Sundling and Thompson. But Patience Harris got 11 points and that hurt us. Their free throws made the difference in the game. They hit the shots when they needed to."
This marked the second straight winless season for the Rockets, who have lost 42 straight.
"We told the girls we got through the hard part," said Carne. "Now, it's time for us to go out and win some games next year. We reminded them we have a summer program. But our program is only going to be as good as the effort we put into it."