Rockets hold off North Central
POWERS — It was a big-game atmosphere Wednesday night as the Rapid River boys’ basketball team held off a North Central fourth- quarter comeback to pull out a 64-56 Skyline Central Conference victory.
The Rockets (11-1) were hot from the 3-point line shooting 10-for-22 (45 percent) including five from Lucas Sundling, who had a game-high 21 points.
“This is a shooters gym and the rims are really soft here,” said Rapid River coach Rich Poma. “Lucas always has a lot of confidence coming into this gym. I thought they moved the ball well and had a lot of spacing and a lot of patience so that kind of opened that up.”
Rapid River jumped out in front right away grabbing a 9-4 lead that included three 3-pointers from Sundling, Logan Hardwick and Cameron Willemsen.
The Jets (9-4) kept it close for most of the quarter behind six points from Austin Poupore but the Rockets scored the final four points to take an 18-11 lead into the second quarter.
North Central pulled within two early in the second quarter but the Rockets took back control going on a 14-4 run to go up by 12.
The Jets scored the last five points of the second quarter to cut the deficit to 33-26 going into halftime.
Rapid River came out strong in the second half going on a 12-4 run that gave it its largest lead of the game at 15.
The Rockets would hold steady the rest of the quarter taking a 49-38 lead into the final quarter.
“We just made too many mistakes early in the game,” said North Central coach Adam Mercier. “It was tough to overcome the start to the third quarter that we had. In the end we just didn’t come out with the victory tonight.”
The start of the fourth quarter belonged to the Jets as they rattled off a 14-6 run that brought them within three with two minutes to play.
“Getting back to within three from how many we were down by shows resolve,” said Mercier. “It shows that we’re maturing a little bit and gelling as a team. We had some nice movement offensively. I think it’s a building block for our team as the year goes on.”
The Rockets held steady down the stretch and hit four crucial free-throws in the final 30 seconds that closed out the victory.
“It’s huge and it’s something I talk about everyday in practice,” said Poma on his team’s free-throw shooting down the stretch. “When it comes down to the final minutes it’s all about free-throws. If teams can’t make free-throws down the stretch you’re probably not going to win.”
Willemsen followed Sundling in scoring with 19 while Hardwick added 11.
Poupore and Lucas Dombrowski led the Jets with 12 points apiece and Noah Gorzinski added 10.
Rapid River, which won the jayvee game 41-33, travels to Munising Tuesday while North Central heads to Big Bay de Noc Friday.
Rapid River 18 15 16 15 — 64
North Central 11 15 12 18 — 56
Rapid River — L. Sundling 21, T. Sundling 4, Hardwick 11, Willemsen 19, Landis 2, Olson 1, DeMars 2, Orth 4; FT: 8-12; F: 18; Fouled out: none; 3-point field goals: L. Sundling 5, Hardwick 2, Willemsen 3.
North Central — Schaff 5, Gorzinski 10, Dombrowski 12, Poupore 12, Snyder 6, Johnson 3, Holle 6, Hanchek 2; FT: 12-23; F: 14; Fouled out: none; 3-point field goals: Schaff 1, Dombrowski 1, Poupore 1, Johnson 1, Holle 2.