Versatile Broncos shoot the lights out

POWERS – The Bark River-Harris girls showed just how versatile they can be Saturday afternoon. In a display of hot shooting, the Broncos took to the skies and launched nine 3-pointers in a 67-15 rout of North Central in the dual conference matchup.

The Broncos (11-4, 6-1 Central U.P., 8-2 Skyline) who have now won six straight games, were doing so mostly on the strength of their inside game during that run, but the Jets packed the paint in a 2-3 zone at the start of Saturday’s game, and for a while it worked.

“The first couple minutes we came out and it was close for the first 2-3 minutes. We were looking pretty good,” said Jets coach Tyler Swanson. “Then they hit a couple shots and it kind of got away from us and we turned the ball over.”

BR-H showed it can be just as dangerous from the perimeter as it picked apart the Jets’ zone with two three-pointers and a few 18 foot jumpers in the first quarter, forcing North Central to spread out. The Broncos ended the first on a 11-0 run and an 18-7 lead.

“It made things happen faster that we hit those perimeter shots, but it could have been a grind,” said BR-H coach Joel Schultz. “They played a good tight zone and we hit some threes and got them out of it, and that’s a big deal. When the 3-pointer is part of our game, we’re a tough cover.”

Things went downhill for the Jets (5-9, 5-5 CUP 3-4 Skyline) after abandoning the zone. The Broncos kept up the hot perimeter shooting but also began to mix it up, driving inside with ease. The 11-0 run that spanned in the second quarter erupted into a 29-0 run that put the game far out of reach. By the half, BR-H held a 43-9 lead and had seven triples.

Offensively, the Jets forced a lot of tough shots under pressure, and couldn’t get anything going. They went nearly 12 minutes without scoring between the first and second quarters and were 7-of-38 (18 percent) from the floor.

“They were hitting from outside and forced us out of the zone and we’re not a very good man team. We don’t play very good help defense, so that hurts us there,” said Swanson. “We got out of our gameplan and didn’t run the offense we wanted to until the last two minutes of the fourth quarter. We’re looking to exploit matchups and hit open shots but we let Bark River control the tempo.”

The Broncos played enjoyed a running clock just over a minute into the second half and finished with nine 3-pointers. All nine Broncos players got on the scoreboard, including freshman Kelsey Boucher who hit two free throws.

“Kelsey doesn’t always get on the scoreboard, but she always contributes. She’s a good ballplayer and she’s helping us. She’s deep in our rotation and that’s part of our evolution to be a better team than we were earlier in the season, because of that ninth person,” Schultz said. “Nikki (Madalinski) is stepping up, Mackenzie Lund is getting good minutes, we see a lot of improvement in those players. We’re getting there.”

Caitlyn Frazer led the Broncos with 20 points, including four triples Jordyn Hardy scored 12.

Morgan Wells led the Jets with seven points and seven rebounds. Baylee Wells also had seven boards.

The schedule is about to get far more difficult for the Broncos as their next three games are at Stephenson (11-1) Monday night, followed by Superior Central (12-1) and Munising (9-3).

“We have a tough stretch and we’re probably not going to come out of it unscathed. I’m looking forward to the next three games, I just hope we’ll be healthy and play hard,” Schultz said. “I”m not real concerned with beating Stephenson this (coming) game. I’d like to see them again (in districts), but it’s going to be tough. We have some tough teams to get through to get there, but we’re starting to play ball at a good time.”

Bark River-Harris also won the jayvee game 80-2.