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Gorzinski scores 28, Jets hold off Rockets

Justin St. Ours | Daily Press North Central’s Luke Gorzinski shoots against Rapid River’s Tony DeMars (back center) and Max Lenaker (left) as teammate Fabian Chartier (34) looks on Tuesday at Rapid River.

RAPID RIVER — It was nip and tuck for the entire fourth quarter, but North Central freshman Luke Gorzinski poured in 28 points and Cole Timblin sealed it from the free throw line as the Jets pulled out a 60-55 win at fourth-ranked Rapid River Tuesday night in a Skyline Central Conference boys basketball game.

Leading 54-52, Gorzinski knocked down a pair of free throws to give the Jets a 56-52 advantage with 45.2 seconds left. After they came up with a stop, Noah Gorzinski went 1 of 2 from the line with 22.3 ticks remaining to make it 57-52.

Max Lenaker then buried a 3-pointer to pull the Rockets within two, but Timblin sank a pair of free throws with just over a second remaining to seal the win.

“The two free throws to close it from Cole Timblin were absolutely huge,” Jets coach Mike Malone said. “He struggles sometimes at the line, and he laid them in perfectly tonight. I was really, really proud of him.”

The Rockets (9-4, 8-4 SCC) led 19-8 after the first quarter before the Jets (9-4, 9-3 SCC) slowly began to chip away the rest of the game.

“We started out well,” Rockets coach Mitch Hall said. “We wanted to dictate the start of the game for once, and the guys came out ready to play and intense. Our rebounding was pretty good. I think we limited them to one shot, and I thought their shots were a little rushed. We contested them, and we rebounded well. We kept (Luke) Gorzinski from driving, and those were the biggest differences I saw from the first half to the second.”

The Jets cut their deficit to 25-18 by halftime and pushed back in the third quarter to tie it 36-36 entering the fourth.

“Desire (is what changed in the second half),” Malone said. “We had a lot more desire. Our tenacity and getting after loose balls, rebounding, going to the rim and trying to create lanes for our offensive rebounders. It was just desire to win. Our desire in the first half was one pass, a shot and let’s just stand around and watch. I think that was one of the biggest changes.”

With 4:40 left in the game, the Rockets’ Tony DeMars tied it at 48 with a jumper. A minute later, a breakaway layup from Luke Gorzinski put the Jets back in the lead, but back-to-back baskets from Tyler Sundling put Rapid River ahead 52-50 with 2:36 left. Luke Gorzinski then scored four straight points to put the Jets ahead for good.

“I put a lot on (Luke’s) shoulders,” Malone said. “I expect him to defend the best player, all game, nothing but full court man-to-man, be my point guard, be cerebral, run the offense and score 20. That’s a big task. He plays every facet of the game. He’s a really good all-around basketball player.”

Noah Gorzinski and Brien Gronmark added 13 points each for the Jets.

The Rockets were led by Lenaker with 16 points and four triples, while Sundling and DeMars followed with 12 apiece.

“I don’t know what we would do different,” Hall said. “It was a heck of a game, and it was close until the end. If we hit a few more shots or get a few more balls to bounce our way, we might win that game next time.

“Kudos to North Central. Luke Gorzinski has the ability to affect a lot of different things on the floor, and I think we did a good job of shutting him down in the first half. Also, the free throws were a bit of a difference in the second half.”

Rapid River, which won the JV game, visits Escanaba Friday. North Central travels to Stephenson Thursday.

North Central 8 10 18 24 — 60

Rapid River 19 6 11 19 — 55

North Central — L. Gorzinksi 28, N. Gorzinski 13, Gronmark 13, Timblin 4, I. Gorzinski 2. F: 8; Fouled out: none; FT: 11-14; 3-point field goals: Gronmark 3, N. Gorzinski 1, L. Gorzinski 1.

Rapid River — Lenaker 16, Sundling 12, DeMars 12, Moss 9, Micheau 4, Flath 2. F: 11; Fouled out: none; FT: 0-1; 3-point field goals: Lenaker 4, Moss 3.

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