Cougars outgun Broncos

HARRIS – The Superior Central Cougars boast one of the U.P.’s best post-up players in Matt Verbrigghe. Thursday night, they showed he can do more than just hang it on the backboard.

Verbrigghe shot three triples and hit a handful of jumpers en route to a game-high 21 points in SC’s 77-39 victory over Bark River-Harris Thursday night.

“We don’t necessarily use Verbrigghe like that. I didn’t even want to necessarily show all that, but Matt is a very good shooter,” said Cougars coach Herb Jenkins. “He improves all the time.”

The Broncos hung right with Superior Central initially, but back to back blasts from beyond the arc by Verbrigghe to end the quarter, gave SC a 19-9 advantage and the rout was on.

“They bombed three’s on us like they were going out of style,” said Broncos coach Matt Richer. “The funny thing is, they did that the first time against us too. They’re a good, quality team.”

The Cougars were aided by a number of things. They were physical on the boards and got numerous second chance opportunities. It was a tall order, literally, for the Broncos just to regain possession in some instances.

“You look at their size and go holy wah, are we ever going to get a rebound?,” said Richer. “They’re so big and Verbrigghe is just a monster.”

During a 25-point second quarter, it seemed like everything the Cougars did worked to perfection. The Cougars had a 14-0 run after BR-H’s Austin Strahl scored the first points of the quarter and at the back end of the quarter, Trevor Maki had two three-point plays, drawing the foul after the basket. He finished with 19 points. The Cougars totaled seven three-pointers, six of them coming in the first half.

Jenkins was particularly proud of the effort of guard Tyler Kienitz who facilitated much of the Cougars’ transition game. He scored 10 points.

“Tyler is playing extremely well, the way you’d expect a senior to play. I’m very happy he’s having success,” he said.

It was senior night for the Broncos and Richer played his entire bench for the majority of the game, as he had planned.

“I told the kids yesterday at practice that I was going to let everyone play and I started rotating early,” he said. “The starters played pretty good but there was such a dropoff in skill and intensity in some players that really showed in the defensive rotations, like understanding where to go and ball handling.

“They were having fun though, and that’s what it’s all about. It’s a long season and some kids haven’t played in 3-4 games. We’re not playing for anything so this was more for morale. You go to practice every day and don’t get the minutes, you might be third or fourth in line at a particular position. That was the gameplan tonight. I knew we’d probably tank it. It would have been different if we had something to play for. The starters were cheering on the subs, it was role reversal and it was fun.”

Troy Teeple led the Broncos’ with a career-high 14 point effort, including two triples. Norman, held scoreless, led his team in rebounding with seven.

Skylar Lloyd was out for the Cougars after jamming his fingers. He is expected back for the district tournament which begins Monday.

Superior Central (13-7) will open on the road at Big Bay de Noc Monday while Bark River-Harris (6-14) hosts Hannahville.

“Hopefully we’ll beat them,” said Richer. “They have a great player in Seth Williams and a lot of talent. You can’t overlook them, especially this year.”