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Baumler leads Wolves past Jets in OT

Austin Hemmingson | Daily Press Carney-Nadeau’s Beau Koffman puts up a shot over North Central defenders Carter Eichmeier (24) and Cole Timblin during Tuesday’s game at Carney.

CARNEY — District tournaments are still a month away, but Tuesday night’s boys basketball game between North Central and Carney-Nadeau had a playoff-type feel to it from start to finish. The two Skyline Central Conference rivals went back and forth the whole way and needed an extra session before Max Baumler made the play of the game to lift the Wolves to a 53-52 overtime victory.

With the Jets (7-4, 7-3 SC) clinging to a 52-51 lead and inbounding the ball near midcourt with just over 20 seconds left in the extra frame, Baumler picked off a pass intended for Luke Gorzinski and drove to the other end where he was fouled by Noah Gorzinski with 19.8 ticks remaining. He then sunk both free throws to put the Wolves (8-5, 6-4 SC) up by one.

“I saw (Luke Gorzinski) was coming around the corner and I just decided to take a chance,” Baumler said. “It happened to hit my hands and I just went with it. I luckily got fouled and I sunk the free throws.”

He also cited feeling no nerves at the free throw line.

“I don’t know what it was, I was just as calm as a cucumber,” he said.

The Jets still had a chance on their final possession, but the Wolves played tight defense and forced them to run off nearly 15 seconds before they even got a shot off. Noah Gorzinski drove to the middle of the lane and lost the ball, got it back and put up an off-balance shot that fell off the rim. Brien Gronmark grabbed the rebound and tried to put it back in while still in mid-air but the shot was off the mark as time ran out.

“Somebody once said that sometimes you don’t lose, you just happen to be behind when time runs out,” Jets coach Mike Malone said. “We did a lot of really good things tonight, we had a few miscues here and there, but the boys executed the game plan really, really well. Sometimes the ball just doesn’t bounce your way.”

The ball bounced the Jets’ way at the end of regulation, though.

After Baumler broke a 45-45 tie with a deep triple from the left wing with 1:47 left, Carney had a chance to ice the game when Mike Flanagan went to the free throw line for the front end of a 1-in-1, but he missed to give the Jets another chance. They grabbed the rebound and got the ball ahead to Luke Gorzinski, who drained a pullup 3-pointer from the right wing with nine seconds left to send the game into overtime.

“It feels great to get the win,” C-N coach Paul Polfus said. “Give North Central all the credit in the world, they played awfully hard. They made it tough for us to get into any type of our offense where we got clean looks. We didn’t shoot particularly well, but we made enough big shots to keep us going.”

The Jets had a little separation after a layup by Wyatt Riley put them up 52-48 with 1:16 left in overtime, but Baumler came down and knocked down another big triple on the next possession to make it a one-point game.

“The first thing I’m going to say is my team (helped me). They always hit me when I was open, and they never told me to stop shooting the ball,” Baumler said. “When you have that team around you surrounding you, it’s hard not to get down on yourself. You just feel like you’re a perfect basketball player. Coach (Polfus) really helps, too.”

Brett LaFord led the Wolves with 25 points, seven rebounds and six assists. Baumler added 13 points, eight rebounds and five steals, while Beau Koffman chipped in 11 points and six boards. Carney shot 18 for 50 from the field and 10 for 32 from downtown.

Noah Gorzinski led the Jets with 16 points, while Luke Gorzinski added 10.

“They came out with fire,” Malone said. “They played 110% for me the whole game. (The Wolves) have offensive sets and movement that are really difficult to defend, because you gotta make sure that you’re covering up five (guys). There’s nobody that can’t hit on that team. Any one of them can shoot it pretty decently, so it’s tough. It’s a tough cover.”

North Central, which won the JV game, hosts Forest Park Friday. The Wolves visit Mid Peninsula Friday.

North Central 12 11 16 9 4 — 52

Carney-Nadeau 14 12 13 9 5 — 53

North Central — Gronmark 9, I. Gorzinski 2, Timblin 6, N. Gorzinski 16, Riley 4, L. Gorzinski 10, Eichmeier 5. FT: 2-2 F: 11; Fouled out: None. 3-point field goals: L. Gorzinski 2, Gronmark 1, Eichmeier 1.

Carney-Nadeau — B. LaFord 25, Baumler 13, Koffman 11, Flanagan 2, Kakuk 2. FT: 7-12; F: 11; Fouled out: None. 3-point field goals: B. LaFord 4, Baumler 3, Koffman 3.

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