By RON DEUTER
FELCH - After seeing an 11-point second-half lead evaporate, North Dickinson got to work at the free throw line and held off Bark River-Harris 61-52, Wednesday in a boys Class D District 126 semifinal at Carl F. Lemin Gymnasium.
Ron Deuter/The Daily News Photo
North Dickinson’s Matt Schultz slips between a pair of Bark River-Harris defenders for a two-point bucket in the fourth quarter Wednesday in a Class D district semifinal.
"It wasn't a pretty win, but this time of year they don't have to be pretty," North Dickinson coach Chris Mattson said.
The Nordics (8-13) will host Friday's district final against North Central, a team they split with during the regular season.
Against the Broncos, the Nordics had to overcome an 18-point second half effort by Kyle Kleiman. They did it by converting 12-of-14 at the line in the final frame.
Kleiman, who led all scorers with a career-high 24 points, ignited the Broncos' comeback charge late in the third into the fourth. His putback of a missed jumper tied the game 48-48 with 2:56 to play.
"That's as good as I've seen Kleiman played all year," Mattson said. "He really carried them offensively."
Unfortunately for the Broncos, that's as close as they would get. Ken Pekarek drove in for two to put North Dickinson back up by two, and then a turnover and a Broncos miss both led to additional Nordic points at the line.
Cody Berg, who led North Dickinson with 18 points, had eight points at the line in the final three minutes. Matt Schultz had 13 in the game and was 4-of-4 at the line in the final minute.
"We played so hard, played so good," Bark River coach Matt Richer said. "We got ourselves behind in the first half. We just weren't making shots. Credit them for playing good defense, but I think we probably missed five or six shots, layups wise. Nerves, nerves got us behind."
The Broncos trailed by nine at halftime before slipping back double digits early in the third.
"It does take a lot of energy (to come back)," Richer said. "We were just about spent, just didn't have anything left for the stretch run."
John Norman put back a rebound for the Broncos with 1:59 to play to make it 52-50, but again the Nordics answered. Tim Hruska, who snagged several key rebounds late, put one of those back in to pump up the margin for good.
"We rose up to the occasion there," Mattson said. "Made a couple of stops when we needed to. We dug in just enough to leak a win out."
Hruska finished with eight for the Nordics. Cody Van Brocklin was a second Bronco in double figures with 10 points.
"ND made the crucial shots, the free throws," Richer said. "This was one of the better games we played all year. It's never easy when the season comes to an end like this."
The Broncos finished 7-15.
North Dickinson and North Central will tip off at 6 p.m. Friday evening.
"They're playing very good basketball as of late," Mattson said. "We're going have to play better than we did tonight. We're at home, which is a good thing.
"If we handle the little things that come at you in a district final, we should be OK. We're very happy to be in the position we're in and wouldn't want be anywhere else. We'll see what happens Friday. It should be a whale of a game."
Bark River-Harris 9 10 18 15 - 52
North Dickinson14 14 13 20 - 61
BRH: Kleiman 24, Van Brocklin 10, Teeple 6, Sodergren 5, Norman 4, Willa 3. FT: 3-10. F: 17. FO: Welch.
ND: Berg 18, Schultz 13, O'Neil 9, Hruska 8, Pekarek 7, Wagner 6. FT: 14-18. F: 12.
FGs - BRH: 23-51; ND 21-46. 3-pt FGs - BRH: Van Brocklin; ND: O'Neil (3), Pekarek, Berg. Reb - BRH: 27 (Norman 9); ND: 33 (Berg, Schultz 10).