By Keith Shelton
For The Daily News
CARNEY - The North Central Jets played tough defense and used their size to their advantage in snapping a four-game losing streak Monday night with a 47-41 dual Central U.P./Skyline Conference victory over Carney-Nadeau.
Keith Shelton/Daily Press Photo
North Central’s Siena LaBonte drives to the basket against Carney-Nadeau during Monday’s dual Central U.P./Skyline Conference basketball game.
"I just said in the locker room 'OK good, we got that win under our belt, now let's go on a six-game win streak heading into districts," said North Central coach Nikki Laurila. "We had a tough schedule in January and those close losses take a lot out of you. We needed this win for our confidence because we were just in a slump."
The Wolves, who will be without starting point-guard and leading scorer Casey Charlier for the remainder of the season with a torn ACL, put Autam Wery in the position of running the offense.
For the most part, it was a good arrangement as Wery provided energy and senior leadership, but foul trouble caught up with her and she sat for nearly the entire third quarter.
The Wolves' offense ran hot and cold throughout. They didn't score their first point of the game until 4:30 into the first quarter. In the third quarter, their first points didn't come until six minutes in.
"The girls played hard tonight, though of course without Casey we're a little bit short in the guard side," said Wolves' coach Duane Bingham. "I thought the girls gave me what they had, we just had a couple scoring droughts where we didn't make some buckets."
Despite the slow start, the Jets lead was a manageable 8-0 when the Wolves began their first-quarter rally.
Wery scored five consecutive points on a layup and a triple to tie the game at 10-10 just before the end of the quarter.
The momentum quickly shifted to North Central's favor as the second half began. Wery picked up her fourth foul right away and headed to the bench and with her out, the Wolves' offense sputtered.
"That's always been Autam's problem (foul trouble). She plays so hard; she was a spark off the bench when I used to bring her off, now she's starting so she's really got a lot of energy," said Bingham. "She gives me everything she's got out there and she played real well."
The Jets' began the third quarter on a 6-0 run with Siena LaBonte scoring all six points, before Janel Dani got the Wolves back on the board with four straight points.
That set up a furious fourth quarter. The Jets responded with a 6-0 run of their own before Carney-Nadeau's Morgan Eichhorn nearly took the game over. She hit the first of three triples in the quarter to pull the Wolves' within 34-29.
With under two minutes remaining, the Wolves hit three more triples, one from Lauren Murray and two more from Eichhorn to keep them within striking distance right until the end.
"Morgan had a big night tonight when we needed it," said Bingham. "We were keeping it close when Janel stole the ball and missed a layup. That would have made it a one-point game with a minute to go. I thought that would have been a big turning point but instead we were still down three, and then we put them on the line."
It was an unlikely hero who preserved the win for the Jets however, as Kennedy Faccio was nearly perfect from the line, going 5-of-6 in the down the stretch. Faccio also hit a big triple early in the second quarter to break an 11-11 tie. She finished with 13 points.
"They were sinking in on Morgan (Wells) a lot in the post and I told the girls 'you guys on the outside have to spot up and be ready to shoot because they're sinking in on her," said Laurila. "Kennedy is a very good shooter. I've been waiting for her to have this game and it happened tonight."
On Thursday, North Central (9-6, 4-4 Skyline, 7-4 CUP) which won the jayvee game 57-29, hosts Stephenson while Carney-Nadeau (9-6, 6-4 Skyline, 8-4 CUP) travels to Big Bay de Noc.
North Central 11 11 8 17 - 47
Carney-Nad. 10 12 4 15 - 41
North Central - Faccio 13, Dana Rochon 3, M. Wells 7, Campbell 1, LaBonte 7, B. Wells 14, Darcy Rochon 2; FT: 18-32; F: 18; Fouled out: LaBonte; 3-point field goals: Faccio.
Carney-Nadeau - Baumler 2, Murray 7, Tancredi 2, J. Dani 9, Eichhorn 13, Wery 8; FT: 11-18; F: 21; Fouled out: J. Dani, Wery; 3-point field goals: Murray, Wery, Eichhorn 4.