By RON DEUTER
KINGSFORD - North Dickinson rode a hot start into a big lead and never looked back, downing Kingsford 53-36 in non-conference boys basketball Friday evening.
Theresa Proudfit/The Daily News Photo
North Dickinson’s Logan O’Neil drives against Kingsford’s Joe Hofer during the first half Friday night. O’Neil scored a game-high 17 points.
"We played very, very well in the first quarter, and we defended well too," Nordics coach Chris Mattson said. "We got ourselves a nice little cushion."
Logan O'Neil scored seven of his game-high 17 point in the first quarter, as the Nordics built a double-digit lead and upped it to a 20-point advantage by the middle of the second quarter.
O'Neil, the only Nordic in double figures, came through with 10 more points over the final 12 minutes of action, preventing Kingsford from cutting the margin below 10 points. His second half included two treys.
"Logan had his best game of the year," Mattson said. "He took control of the game in the third quarter, really sparked us in the second half offensively when we needed it."
Kingsford, led by Dan Harrington's 15 points, switched to a different zone defense look midway through the second quarter and was successful in taking some of the sizzle out of the Nordic offense. Harrington canned a triple and drove for two, and the Flivvers got two more buckets by Joe Gregory on a 9-2 run late in the first half.
But a short baseline fadeaway by Justin Clark at the buzzer kept North Dickinson in front by 15 at the break.
"We really tried focussing on getting ourselves off to a good start," Flivvers head coach Dan Olkkonen said. "We tried some different preparations. Down 12 after one, that's tough.
"The effort was there, but then you could see as we started missing shots, missing free throws, it really started putting pressure on the defense. All the sudden they start hitting and it becomes a snowball effect."
North Dickinson (6-1) shot 46 percent for the game, including 6-of-19 from 3-point range.
"They shot really well," Olkkonen said. "But we still have to step up and play defense. The different zone look gave them a little trouble, and it was nice that we battled back a little bit, but they are not 6-1 for no reason. They work hard for each other. Chris really does a good job getting those guys to play."
Aside from O'Neil's effort, the Nordics were balanced on offense. Clark finished with 10 points, while Matthew Schultz and Reggie Johnson each came up with seven points.
"A game like that, you know they will make a run, and they did," Mattson said. "But we kind of held it together. Our kids played calm. I really liked the way they distributed the ball."
Kingsford threatened to cut North Dickinson's lead to 10 or less a few times in the second half, but the Nordics always responded. O'Neil answered two times in the third. He drove for two to make it 37-24, and then nailed a 3-ball to make it 40-26. Consecutive triples by Clark and Schultz pushed the game out reach for good early in the fourth.
"We've been shooting the ball well," Mattson said. "Tonight we took good looks. Our philosophy, as simple as it sounds, is shoot when we're open and pass it when we're not. We're also a good rebounding team, so even if we don't make it, we pride ourselves on being able to go up and get a second or third chance."
Kingsford (1-6) also got six points from Gregory and five by Jack Glodowski.
"When you look at the consistency of our slow starts, we really have to find something to change," Olkkonen said. "We've got some tough games coming up here."
Kingsford won the JV game 65-48. Nick Smith led the Flivvers with 19 points. ND's Hunter Mattson scored 24 points on eight 3-pointers. In freshmen action, Kingsford fell to Peshtigo 38-36. Owen Petschar had 11 points for Kingsford.
Kingsford returns to league play Monday, traveling to Menominee.
The Nordics host unbeaten U.P. No. 1 North Central this afternoon in a make-up game. JV action starts at 1 p.m. with varsity to follow at 2:30 p.m.
The Jets took a hit the other night with power forward Travis Vincent suffering what appeared to be a bad ankle injury.
"I hope he is able to come back," Mattson said. "The kid is a great player. Either way, they are still on of the best teams in the U.P. We're going to have to play our best game of the year, but we are looking forward to the challenge.
"To go where we want to go, we have to go through the Carneys and the North Centrals. This game will be a nice little benchmark to see where we are at."
N. Dickinson 16 15 11 11 - 53
Kingsford 4 12 12 8 - 36
ND: O'Neil 17, Wagner 6, Berg 6, Clark 10, Schultz 7, Johnson 7. FT: 3-4. F: 12.
K: Jennings 1, Voss 2, Harrington 15, Stanchina 2, Glodowski 5, Tengesdahl 3, Gregory 6. FT: 9-17. F: 8.
FGs - ND: 22-48 (3-pt: 6-19); K: 13-29 (3-pt: 1-8). 3-pt FGs - ND: O'Neil (2), Clark (2), Schultz, Johnson; K: Harrington. Reb. - ND: 30 (Clark 8); K: 24 (Harrington 9).