By John Vrancic
For The Daily News
POWERS - The North Central boys stepped up their defense when they needed it most Saturday night, outlasting the Superior Central Cougars 65-60 in a physical Central U.P. Conference basketball match-up.
Ron Deuter/The Daily News Photo
North Central’s Caleb Martin (34) gives the Jets the lead for good in the final moments of Saturday’s Central U.P. Conference boys basketball game against Superior Central.
"It was an exciting game," said Jets' coach Adam Mercier. "The officials let the guys play. I think our defense was real good in the fourth quarter. We had some key stops and steals. Neither team ever got into an offensive flow, but it was still some good basketball. It was 32 minutes of hard, physical basketball."
The Cougars gained a 60-58 lead with 85 seconds left to play when senior Bryce Richard sank a jump shot from the lane.
Freshman Caleb Martin, however, put the Jets ahead to stay (61-60) with a layup and free throw just eight seconds later.
Sophomore Rob Granquist added a pair of gifters with 42.1 seconds remaining and junior Travis Vincent ended the scoring on a putback with 18 seconds left in a contest which climaxed the Seventh Annual North Central Alumni Weekend.
"No doubt, it was a competitive game," said Cougars' coach Herb Jenkins. "They (North Central) are a very talented team. But we left their shooters.
When we did that, they made us pay."
North Central, using primarily a man-to-man defense, trailed 50-41 late in the third quarter.
But the Jets finished that period with a 7-0 run, climbing within 50-48 on a buzzer-beating 10-foot jump shot by junior Eric Prestay.
The contest marked the return of Rob Granquist, who missed Monday's 70-66 overtime loss to North Dickinson. He and Vincent led the Jets (5-2 overall, 3-1 CUP) with 17 points each. Junior Trevor Ekberg added 12.
"It helped to have Rob back tonight," said Mercier. "We needed this game, and we could see there was a sense of urgency among our players going into the fourth quarter. This was a good game to get us back on track."
Senior Trevor Maki scored a season-high 30 points for the Cougars (5-4 overall, 2-1 league). Matt Verbrigghe hit 11 and Dan Steward had 10.
"I think we played pretty close to our potential," said Jenkins. "This was going to be a tough game for us to win. In fact, we would have had to play a perfect game to win. I thought the third quarter was fairly well played by both teams. They're a young team. We have all the respect in the world for Adam and his team."
Maki swished a pair of trifectas in the third frame when the Cougars outscored the Jets 23-22.
"What a player he (Maki) is," said Mercier. "He had a tremendous third quarter. We put Eric Prestay on him in the fourth quarter, and I thought Eric did a tremendous job."
The Cougars committed 19 turnovers in the contest and North Central finished with 12.
Superior Central, which won the jayvee contest 51-50, travels to Dollar Bay Tuesday. The Jets host Big Bay de Noc Thursday.
Superior Cent 15 12 23 10 - 60
North Cent 10 16 22 17 - 65
Superior Central - Steward 10, N. Maki 7, Verbrigghe 11, T. Maki 30, Richard 2. FT: 6-8; F: 19; Fouled out: Steward, T. Maki; 3-point field goals: T. Maki 5, N. Maki.
North Central - Polfus 8, R. Granquist 17, J. Granquist 4, Vincent 17, Martin 3, Ekberg 12, Prestay 2. FT: 12-20; F: 11; Fouled out: None; 3-point field goals: R. Granquist 3, Polfus 2.