Rockets’ misques lead to Broncos win

HARRIS – Sloppy and not very artistic, but at least there is hope on the horizon for both the Bark River-Harris and Rapid River boys basketball teams.

With both teams missing their point guards, neither team was able to get into a smooth rhythm Thursday night. BR-H finally prevailed, capitalizing not surprisingly on some late turnovers for a 51-43 victory.

“It was ugly, but someone had to win,” said BR-H coach Matt Richer. “It was kind of scatter ball.”

Richer at least knows the Broncos are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel because junior Troy Teeple becomes eligible next week when the second semester begins. The transfer from neighboring Hannahville will take over the point position and Richer figures he will settle the team’s offense and perhaps provide 10-15 points and five-eight assists a game.

“He is a guy who can start controlling the offense and break down the (opposing) defense,” said Richer. “He can do it consistently without turning the ball over, and he can finish or get off a pass. We’ve been doing point guard by committee, and it has been pretty sloppy some nights.”

The Broncos had just 13 turnovers but had trouble finding an offensive flow against Rapid River’s pressure and man-to-man defense. They hit just 19-of-53 field goals.

BR-H (3-6 overall, 3-3 Skyline, 2-4 Central U.P.) closed the game with a 13-4 advantage over the final 3:12, hitting 9-of-13 free throws in that span.

After Tom Conine and John Norman hit two gift shots apiece to send BR-H ahead 42-41, Kyle Kleiman stole the ball and drove for a basket. Jake Pearson got inside for a Rapid River basket with 1:58 left, but Conine hit a free throw and Kleiman turned another steal into a layup for Cody Welch for a 47-43 lead with 1:10 left. After another Norman free throw, Kleiman had another steal and hit two gift shots for a 50-43 cushion with 33.6 seconds left.

Those turnovers were among 22 by the Rockets, which left coach Craig Carter flabbergasted. He noted the Rockets had handled tougher pressure against Munising, Carney-Nadeau and North Central in recent games with half as many turnovers.

“You can tell we panicked,” said Carter, who learned Monday he would be without point guard Robert Metter for two games for a violation of training rules.

“I’m almost speechless (about the miscues),” said Carter. “We had too many unforced turnovers, travels and carrying the ball. You can’t have that. I’m almost at a loss for words.”

Hayden Hardwick, better suited to play forward, was forced to handle the point. He led the Rockets with 18 points and Jake Pearson added 16, with eight in the fourth quarter.

“We only have two guys who want the ball. We need more than that. Metter can be that other guy,” said Carter.

The Rockets hit 15-of-44 field goals and held a 34-29 rebound edge, with Pearson getting 10.

“I thought coming in this was a very winnable game,” said Carter. “These are the kind of games we’ve got to win. We’ve played well enough to win some games. We’ve just got to finish them.”

The Rockets (0-8 overall and 0-7 in both leagues) have a good chance to get that elusive first win Monday at Republic. They led 23-21 at halftime Thursday by using an 11-0 run as the Broncos went scoreless for four minutes of the second quarter.

Richer said foul trouble forced him to shuffle his lineup in the second quarter, resulting in some bad matchups. “They were getting the ball down low and scoring at point blank range,” he said of the Rockets.

John Norman led the Broncos with 16 points and 12 rebounds, with 11 points after intermission when he brought more energy to the floor. Conine added 13 points and Kleiman had 12.

The Broncos, who won the jayvee game 57-28, play a makeup game at Republic Saturday, then host Stephenson Tuesday when Teeple makes his debut.