Jets step up, take down BR-H in 2 OTs
HARRIS — North Central basketball players have a nickname for teammate Trenton Schaff.
They call him “Rain Man” because he makes it rain in practice with 3-point baskets.
Just like Wednesday night in the Class D district semifinal when Schaff drilled two 3-pointers in the final minute of regulation, sparking the Jets’ frantic late comeback and eventual thrilling 78-72 double overtime win against host Bark River-Harris.
Schaff made it rain and kept the three-time defending Class D state champions alive and hungry to keep on playing.
“I realized that someone had to do it or this very well would be the last game of my career,” said Schaff, who made five 3-pointers and scored 17 of his 22 points in the second half. “I didn’t want that. I stepped up and I took the shots. The rest is in the books.
“This is one of the best feelings I’ve had in my life. I’m having a hard time keeping it together right now.”
The Jets (17-4) won’t let any team rain on their current parade just yet. They advance to Friday’s district title game at 7 p.m. EST at host Carney-Nadeau.
North Central trailed 59-52 after Ryan Arndt’s basket at the 2:17 mark of regulation. Then sophomore guard Noah Gorzinski hit a basket and one-of-two free throws to pull the Jets within 59-55 with 1:09 left.
BR-H (13-8) also kept the door open by missing the front end of two late one-and-ones. And after a timeout, Schaaf drilled two deep 3-pointers, the second one making it 61-61 with 23 seconds remaining.
After a timeout, the Broncos worked the ball around in the final seconds, but Arndt’s short shot from the baseline missed the mark before the buzzer.
In the first overtime, Logan Heim made one-of-two free throws to give the Broncos a 69-67 lead at the :29 mark. But the Jets answered with another clutch play from Lucas Dombrowski, who drove into the paint and hit a short shot off the glass to tie the game at 69-69 with 5.8 seconds left.
Arndt had another good look on a long 3-pointer, but his shot missed the mark just before the buzzer.
In the second OT, the Jets outscored BR-H 9-3, sparked by five quick points from reserve Carter Holle and they finished the emotional win against their neighboring rivals before a packed house at BR-H High School.
Dombrowski was raining shots early, scoring 18 of his 23 points in the first half, which saw the Broncos lead 14-11 after the first quarter and a 32-32 tie at intermission.
Gorzinski scored 17 points and Holle finished with nine as the Jets’ balanced attack came through.
“Our balance in the end proved worthwhile,” Jets’ coach Adam Mercier said. “We had a kid named Carter Holle, we rolled the dice to start the second overtime, and he hit two big baskets. And Trent Schaff stepped up with big moments in the fourth quarter. Different guys stepped up at different times. That’s what makes us a dangerous team. We are very happy with the effort of our kids tonight.”
Arndt closed out his stellar career with 24 points, followed by Hunter Debelak with 15 and Heim with 14.
Arndt and many of the Broncos were visibly shaken after the hard-fought emotional loss.
“We didn’t hit free throws down the stretch and our defense wasn’t too hot in the middle,” Arndt said. “That will be hard to look back on.
“It was a great game. Both teams came out ready to play. You couldn’t ask for anything more as a fan. It’s a good team over there. They have a legacy behind them.”
For the record, BR-H, hit 2-of-4 free throws at the end of regulation and 2-of-4 free throws in the first overtime. For the game, the Broncos converted 9-of-15.
“We let it slip away at the end,” Broncos’ coach Jim VanEnkevort said. “We missed some free throws that were huge, and basically to me, that was the game. We missed some big ones in the last two minutes. We should have won it in regulation.
“We got it to double overtime, so we didn’t lose total momentum. We had shots. We had shots to finish it in overtime and we had shots to finish it in regulation. We didn’t make them, that’s all. If you make shots you move on, if you miss shots you go home.”
Added Mercier: “They did miss some crucial free throws in the fourth-quarter stretch. But the second part is we have to take advantage and our kids executed very well. They made their shots when they had to. They stuck to the game plan offensively and defensively we got some key stops. We had to get a stop at the end of regulation and at the end of the first overtime. They had the ball and we had to get a stop. We got stops both times.”
Mercier and the Jets will get ready for the Wolves, who were swept by North Central during the regular season.
“We have to re-set the button,” Mercier said. “We have to re-engage ourselves with Carney-Nadeau and get to that scouting report. It’s a great win for us, but at the same time there is some unfinished business. Carney is going to play much better than they did the first two times. They shoot the ball so much better in their gym. We are expecting a dogfight down there. It should be a fun night.”
North Central 11 21 9 20 8 9 — 78
BR-Harris 14 18 17 12 8 3 — 72
North Central — Schaff 22, Gorzinski 17, Holle 9, Dombrowski 23, Poupore 4, Snyder 3. FT: 12-19; F: 17; Fouled out: none; 3-point field goals: Schaff 5, Holle.
Bark River-Harris — Mustafa 2, Arndt 24, Richer 2, Korhonen 4, Schultz 4, Groos 7, Debelak 15, Heim 14. FT: 9-15; F: 18; Fouled out: none. 3-point field goals: Arndt 3, Groos, Debelak, Heim 2.