Broncos persevere in clutch

HARRIS – Bark River-Harris managed their mistakes, persevered through a couple lulls and came up big in the clutch to come away with a 65-57 Skyline Conference girls basketball victory over North Dickinson, Friday night.

The Broncos (1-2, 1-1 Skyline) started quick, snoozed through the second quarter and rallied from an 11 point deficit in the third before pushing ahead down the stretch.

“They (BR-H) made their shots down the stretch, hit a couple big three’s and opened up the lead at the end of the game. That was the difference I thought,” said Nordics head coach MIke Roell. “It was a great game and both teams played really hard. I couldn’t be prouder. It was a great team effort, everyone contributed, it was a lot of fun to watch and to coach.”

The Broncos, who only had seven players available, had three in foul trouble in the third quarter. They lost leading scorer Caitlyn Frazer with just over three minutes remaining and the Broncos down by one in the fourth quarter. Up to that point, Frazer was a tough assignment in the post where she got the majority of her career-high 22 points. Frazer also collected seven rebounds and swiped four steals.

But when Frazer went down, Hannah Starnes rose up.

After two Nordic free throws, the Broncos’ sophomore point guard hit a key triple to tie the game at 55, before giving her team the lead on a quick layup.

North Dickinson answered right back with a quick swoosh from Gina Rotter, and the Broncos then drove right back down court and got it to Nikki Madalinski who put up a layup for what would be the game winning basket.

Schultz had nothing but praise for Starnes following the game.

“I think Hannah is going to be the best point guard we’ve seen in the U.P. as soon as she knows it,” he said. “She has a little bit of insecurity and her shot doesn’t go in, but she can get a shot off anytime she wants. It’s a step beyond potential. She’ll get it. She doesn’t have the self confidence yet, but she’ll get it.

Each team was missing key players from their lineup. The Broncos played without Jordyn Hardy who suffered a concussion Tuesday night at Gwinn. The Nordics were without Miranda Jacobson and Elizabeth Charlevoix and will likely be without each for at least the next 2-3 weeks.

“We do have a couple kids who can score, but we had one out,” said Schultz. “Katie (Schultz) can score some too, but her and Frazer were the ones in foul trouble. We’re lucky we finished with five players.”

The Nordics led 28-25 at the break and increased their lead to 38-27 on a 10-0 run in the third quarter while getting contributions from just about everyone. The Broncos floundered with turnovers, even going a stretch in the third without even getting a shot off.

But suddenly Bark River snapped out of it and launched an 11-2 run to get back in it. Schultz hit triple near the end of the quarter to tie it at 44, but the Nordics drew a foul with three seconds remaining and Maria Roell hit both free throws and the Nordics clung to a 46-44 lead going into the fourth.

Throughout the game, Bark River kept the pressure on and the Nordics often didn’t have good looks at the basket, but whether North Dickinson was shooting desperation three’s or putting up one-handed lobs in the post, everything seemed to be going in.

“They were making shots I don’t think they make every day,” said Schultz of the Nordics. “They were making three’s, one girl had a finger roll from 17 feet, they executed well. We got those fouls that hurt us, but we hung on.

“We knew at the half we wanted to switch our defense up at some point, but we know we can’t push the tempo out of a man defense when we’re in foul trouble. So we were using a zone to push tempo.”

Lexi Steele led the Nordics with 15 points. Chelsey Stroud scored 12 with 12 rebounds as the Nordics shot 38 percent from the field.

Kortney Jenshak scored 11 points for the Broncos and Starnes, Schultz and Madalinski each had nine. Schultz added six rebounds, five assists and four steals as the Broncos shot a season-best 31 percent from the field (23-74).