Jets make the plays

HARRIS – Both teams brought the energy Friday night when North Central and Bark River-Harris met for the second time this season. However the Broncos supply was limited whereas the Jets’ reserves never ran dry as they kept the intensity level up throughout in a 59-47 dual Skyline/Central U.P. Conference victory.

A key stretch in the second quarter gave the Jets a nice cushion which they carried the rest of the game.

Holding a 14-8 lead after the first quarter, North Central (14-3, 9-2 Skyline, 8-3 CUP) went on a 12-4 run in the second frame, and didn’t allow a Broncos field goal until over five minutes in. At halftime, the Jets had an 11-point lead which they maintained throughout the second half.

“That was a huge defensive effort the kids gave in the second quarter,” said Jets coach Adam Mercier. “We did a nice job in the first half, but credit Bark River also. Defensively they’re much improved and they gave us some problems up top with their zone. I’m sure (Broncos coach) Matt Richer is happy with that improvement.”

The Broncos had stretches where they brought the heat, threatening multiple times to get back in it. However, the Jets remained a step ahead, anticipated well and always had an answer for each big play BR-H made.

Cody Welch scored the first points of the second half for the Broncos. But Jets guard Tyler Polfus answered with a triple. John Norman and Ben Kleiman then hit heavily contested back-to-back layups and again the Jets answered with a triple from Josh Granquist.

In the fourth quarter, Cody VanBrocklin drove hard to the net and pulled off a nice 3-point play. The Jets slammed the door with a 7-0 run, in return.

“We never let them get on runs, especially with their 3-pointers,” said Mercier. “We contested the 3-point line tonight. They’re a hot shooting team when they’re on, but whenever they had a big basket, we countered it at the other end and didn’t allow them to get back in the game.”

The Jets’ big men, Trevor Ekberg and Travis Vincent came up huge when they were needed most. Ekberg’s long wingspan gave the Broncos problems at net-front as he came up with five blocks and his 18 points led both teams. Vincent, with 17 points, came up big at both ends of the court and was at his best down the stretch, getting key rebounds and seven fourth quarter points.

“They’re so athletic. You get up on them and they go around you,” said Richer. “Even on rebounds. You think you have them boxed out and they just go over you. They’re a hard matchup and my guys are aware of it. We just have to work harder at times and push them out a little farther.”

The Broncos got plenty of good looks throughout the game, but more than a few balls seemed to hang on the rim before falling out.

:Sometimes we weren’t making shots but the effort was consistent,” said Richer. “North Central is one of the two or three best teams in the U.P. and we were right there with them except for a 2-3 minute stretch in the second quarter when they made that run on us.”

After the game Vincent was ready to go again, as the Jets are set to host Superior Central tonight at 7:30 p.m.

“It feels great to win because it’s your rival,” he said. “We had to keep up the energy to beat them. We have another big game (tonight) but we’re going to go to that one with a lot of energy too.”

The Jets are in a season-ending stretch where, due to make-up dates, they are playing four games in a six-day span.

“We’re taking it one game at a time,” said Mercier. “our bench was good tonight with good contributions from Caleb Martin, Eric Prestay and Andy Estrada. We’ll need them again tomorrow night.”

Bark River-Harris (6-12, 6-7 Skyline, 3-10 CUP) hosts North Dickinson Tuesday.