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Wolves take down Jets

North Central sustains first cage loss in big rivalry contest

Austin Hemmingson | Daily Press Carney-Nadeau’s Brett LaFord (15) puts up a shot over North Central defenders Brady Eichmeier (21) and Noah Gorzinski (12) Thursday at Carney.

CARNEY — Junior Brett LaFord scored 23 points and Carney-Nadeau knocked off rival North Central 61-43 here Thursday in a Skyline Central Conference game. Rivalry games are always a different animal, and you could feel the intensity from the very beginning.

The Wolves (4-0) jumped out to a 14-3 lead with 1:04 remaining in the first quarter and North Central could never quite recover, suffering its first loss of the season (5-1).

“I thought we brought really good energy in the first quarter,” Wolves’ coach Jacob Polfus said. “We had really good energy in the first and third quarter.”

After Carney jumped out to a nine-point lead at the end of the first, the Jets battled back in the second with timely jumpers from Griffin Johnson and Noah Gorzinski to cut the deficit to 28-21 at halftime.

“I thought we got a little stagnant in the second quarter,” Polfus said. “We weren’t moving the ball as well and the guys looked a little bit tired after expending so much energy in the first quarter.”

The Jets came out firing again in the second half, scoring the first six points to cut the deficit to 28-27 on a three-pointer by Travis Bentley. But again the Wolves had h a 9-3 run to force the Jets into a timeout.

“They (Wolves) are super disciplined,” Jets’ coach Mike Malone said. “They’re disciplined away from the ball and on defense.

“That’s the best team we’ve seen since last year. They are a superior opponent at this point in the season.”

The Wolves took a 37-30 lead into the fourth quarter and finished strong. On their first possession, Max Baumler missed a jumper but chased down his own miss and put it back in to push the lead back to nine. With 4:19 to go in the game, Beau Koffman drilled a three from the right wing to give the Wolves a 12-point lead, feeling like a dagger at the time.

But the Jets fought back and trimmed the gap back down to nine on a bucket by Brady Eichmeier. Eichmeier was fouled and completed the three-point play.

The Jets managed to hang around for a little bit until LaFord nailed a three from atop the arc to make it 54-39 with 2:32 to play and end any hope of a Jets’ comeback.

“We moved the ball really well on offense,” LaFord said. “When we do that, the floor opens up and we can shoot.”

LaFord had a huge night, dominating on both ends. However, he was quick to credit his teammates.

“I put a lot of work in, but I do it for them,” he said. “I do it for them because we want to win. The credit goes to my teammates for making that happen.”

Polfus shared his thoughts on LaFord’s performance.

“He does it on both ends,” Polfus said. “He guarded (Noah) Gorzinski on the other end tonight and got a ton of rebounds.”

Polfus was also very pleased with his team’s effort.

“They play hard for 32 minutes,” he said. “We have a special group of guys here. Our last game against Stephenson we didn’t make the timely shots but tonight we did that.

“We also learned that we can play defense for 32 minutes — but beating North Central this early doesn’t make your season. We need to keep improving. Last year they (Jets) beat us twice before we beat them in the district final.”

LaFord echoed those same thoughts.

“We were home and felt comfortable tonight,” LaFord said. “It will be different when we go there. But we’ll bring the same energy.”

LaFord led the Wolves with 23 points and Baumler chipped in with 17, including four three-pointers. Koffman added 12.

Eichmeier led the Jets with 14 points.

“We seen what we needed to see,” Malone said. “They exposed a lot of our weaknesses. I thought we would have the edge in rebounding but we were just out-manned. They run, jump and move really well.”

North Central won the jayvee game 56-36.

The Jets visit Menominee Tuesday, while Carney is off until it hosts its Holiday Classic Dec. 27-28.

North Central 5 16 9 13 — 43

Carney-Nadeau 14 14 9 24 — 61

North Central — Eichmeier 14, N. Gorzinski 9, Johnson 7, Bentley 6, Holle 3, Hanchek 2, Timblin 2. F: 9; FT: 6-9; Fouled out: None. 3-point field goals: Johnson, Bentley, N. Gorzinski.

Carney-Nadeau — LaFord 23, Baumler 17, Koffman 12, Blahnik 6, Corrigan 3. F: 10; FT: 3-5; Fouled out: None. 3-point field goals: Baumler 4, Koffman 2, LaFord, Corrigan.

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