Nordics surge past Rockets

RAPID RIVER – The North Dickinson Nordics appeared to be hanging by a thread after a one-point third quarter against the Rapid River Rockets Monday. But a 17-point scoring surge in the fourth pushed them ahead to the 40-38 Skyline Conference victory.

The Nordics (5-8) held a 22-21 halftime lead, but an offensive drought in the third quarter put Rapid River up by five heading into the final frame. However, Tim Hruska got North Dickinson rolling with a triple to open the fourth, and it was followed by an easy fast-break layup by Cody Berg to tie the game. Within just a few moments, the Nordics had virtually erased their third quarter woes.

“It was a close-fought game. It may have been an ugly win, but we’ll take it,” said Nordics coach Chris Mattson. “Both teams were trying to find some energy at the end of the game to make one or two stops, and luckily for the Nordics, we managed to get those stops.”

Later in the fourth, Zach Evans knocked down a triple to reclaim the lead for the Rockets, and the Nordics were on the verge of turning the ball over. Eli Orth attempted to keep the ball in bounds, but it ended up in the hands of Berg and he nailed a three-pointer to give his team a 37-35 lead with about two minutes remaining.

“That was the biggest play of the game,” said Rockets coach Craig Carter. “It was a really big three for them.”

Robert Metter brought the Rockets (1-13) back within one, but Berg made some clutch free throws to put North Dickinson up by three with 25 seconds left. The Rockets got two three-point looks, but neither would fall. They would be forced to foul, and as a result the Nordics would put away the game.

“It’s just a matter of finishing games now,” Carter added. “We’ve put ourselves in position to win a handful of games. We’ve just got to get over that hump.”

North Dickinson was 17 of 23 from the free throw stripe, which kept the tempo relatively slow but also allowed them to hang around with the Rockets after Jake Pearson put up 13 of his team’s 15 first quarter points. Pearson converted on three old fashioned three-point plays, drawing fouls and getting to the line to give his team an early advantage.

“Pearson had a great first quarter,” Mattson said. “We challenged our kids to focus on playing him better, and he only ended up with 17 points.”

Berg led the Nordics with 14 points, while Pearson paced the Rockets with a double-double, finishing with 12 rebounds and four blocks to go along with his 17 points.

North Dickinson, which also took the jayvee game 66-32, resumes today hosting North Central. The Rockets also resume today, hosting Munising.