PERKINS - It was a game of two halves; the first belonged to the Rapid River Rockets, who went into halftime with a 25-15 lead. The second was all Mid Peninsula, who claimed the momentum and rallied back to win the game 54-49 Friday night.
"We came out and we weren't there, our heads were not in the game," said Wolverines coach Mark Branstrom. "Once they started having a sense of urgency, it made a huge difference."
Both teams came out playing well defensively, and the first quarter ended in a stalemate, 7-7. The few baskets that were scored came mostly from inside penetration by Rapid River's Jake Pearson, who was able to get some open looks once he broke past the perimeter defense, and the Rockets had a 7-2 lead early on.
Justin?Marietti |?Daily Press
Rapid River’s Robert Metter goes up for a shot while Mid Peninsula’s Brett Branstrom defends, Friday night, in Perkins. The Wolverines won 54-49.
Justin?Marietti |?Daily Press
Mid Peninsula’s Chad Branstrom puts up a shot while avoiding Riley Pajnich and other Rapid River defenders during their game Friday in Perkins. The Wolverines won, 54-49.
However, Mid Pen's Brett Branstrom decided to beat Rapid River at their own game, breaking through the defense and getting shots in the paint to tie the game.
The Rockets completely deflated the crowd in the second quarter, and the Wolverines looked a little flat footed. They had completely seized the momentum of the game, and unless Mid Pen turned things around quickly, this had the makings of a blowout.
As time expired in the half, Rapid River's Robert Metter fired up a triple that connected, and the Rockets fans went ballistic.
Rapid River 7 18 12 12 - 49
Mid Peninsula 7 8 19 20 - 54
Rapid River: Hardwick 6, Pearson 17, Orth 7, Metter 13, Morgan 2, Pajnich 4; FT: 11-23; F: 20; Fouled out: Pajnich; 3-point field goals: Metter 2
Mid Peninsula: Winkelbauer 13, T. Branstrom 1, C. Branstrom 10, B. Branstrom 27, Richmond 3; FT: 14-21; F: 18; Fouled out: none; 3-point field goals: Winkelbauer, B. Branstrom
In the third quarter, the Rockets went to the mismatch game. Nearly every time the defense would shift, Pearson was left covered by a much smaller defender, and got open looks. But whatever coach Branstrom told his team at halftime, it appeared to have an effect on his team.
Trey Branstrom came up with a huge block, and paced the court with authority afterward. When the Rockets took the following possession, the Wolverines brought the trap defense, and the tide began to turn.
The Wolverines whittled the lead down, and the Rockets went into the fourth quarter clinging to a 37-34 lead. And while they may have still had the lead, the momentum had clearly changed hands in the third quarter.
Brett Branstrom made his presence known right away in the fourth, as he found his way in for the easy lay in, and then came up with a big defensive board on the other end. All of a sudden, it was a one-point game. Then, a Rockets miss was followed by a fast break layup from Chad Branstrom, and as the Wolverines claimed the lead, the crowd erupted.
An Eli Orth free throw tied the game, but Brett Branstrom sealed up the game with a few key plays. A layup reclaimed the lead for Mid Pen, and then a Branstrom block turned into an outlet pass to Chad Branstrom, who was fouled.
Two free throw shots turned into four after a technical foul was called on Rockets coach Craig Carter, and Branstrom hit all four.
With about two minutes remaining, Orth hit an off-balance jumper to bring Rapid River within two points. It was followed by a Brett Branstrom three-pointer, and the Wolverines were able to stave off a late rally by the Rockets and claim the victory.
"Rapid River played us extremely well," said Mark Branstrom. "They played us as hard as they possibly could."
Brett Branstrom finished with yet another double double, dishing 27 points and 18 rebounds to go with six blocks.
"I thought we played well, and we've certainly come a long way," said Rockets coach Craig Carter. "You can't take anything away from them. We had a big lead, and they pressured us, and we didn't handle it well. I think that might be the only thing we didn't do well tonight."
Rapid River's jayvees won their first game of the season after fighting back and winning 39-38 on a last second three-pointer from Josh Parrett.
The Wolverines resume Jan. 3 when they host Gladstone, while the Rockets come back Jan. 4 to host Superior Central.