By BURT ANGELI
FELCH - North Central, missing its best player and sitting another standout for the first half Saturday, dispatched North Dickinson 59-45 in Skyline Conference boys basketball at Carl F. Lemin Gymnasium.
Rand Hruska Photo
North Dickinson’s Matt Schultz slips past North Central’s Josh Granquist.
The unbeaten Jets have lost All-U.P. Travis Vincent (ankle) for possibly a month and pivot Trevor Ekberg (team reasons) didn't see the court until the second half when things were in control.
"Our kids responded real well," Jets coach Adam Mercier said of the player situation. "We showed our balance which is nice.
"This was a great team win where every kid stepped up. We did a nice job of meeting the challenge from a physical North Dickinson team."
North Dickinson, holding North Central without a field goal for the final three minutes of the first quarter, held a 12-11 lead until the Jets got going in the second quarter.
"North Dickinson had the upper hand in the first quarter," Mercier said. "They played physical along with us and got some offensive rebounds."
North Central rolled 8-2 over the opening five minutes and 17-6 in the second quarter for a 28-18 halftime advantage.
"We put ourselves in a good position after the first quarter," Nordics coach Chris Mattson said. "The second quarter is where the ball game swung in their favor. We never did get back from that point on.
"Against a good team you can't make the little mistakes. It seems the turnovers we made ended up being the easy two points on the other end."
Mattson credited the Jets' pressure defense.
"They forced us into some of those turnovers," Mattson said. "I think it was a little sloppy play on our part, too."
Center Trevor Martin keyed the deep, talented and athletic Jets. The sophomore scored 15 points and rebounded well.
"Caleb Martin stepped up to the plate and probably had a career high for points and rebounds," Mercier said. "I want to congratulate Caleb on a great game. It shows you the potential that he has."
Noted Mattson, "The Martin kid did a very nice job. He was a presence inside."
Rob Granquist scored 11 of his game-high 17 points in the first. Ekberg, playing his best half according to Mercier, netted eight points in the second half to match Jason Whitens' game total.
"Robbie Granquist had a nice game for them," Mattson said. "He took control of the game in the second quarter."
Reggie Johnson, 12; Logan O'Neil, 11, and Noah Berg, 10, produced double-digit points for the Nordics.
"I liked the way Noah Berg played, especially in the second half," said Mattson of the sophomore who also speared 10 rebounds. "He stepped up and gave us a presence inside. They were battling inside there."
Mercier praised Josh Granquist's defense on O'Neil.
"He's a tough cover," Mercier said. "His effort is contagious."
North Dickinson, limiting North Central to a season low in points, closed to eight on three occasions in the second half - the last with 7:31 in the fourth period.
"We had some separation and that had a lot to do with defensive stops," Mercier said. "The kids buckled down and played good defense.
"North Dickinson is really good. They're solid. They play tough competition as well. Their schedule is no cakewalk."
North Central, 9-0 for the first time since 1985, was playing its fourth game in a week. The Jets also converted 17 free throws to five for the Nordics.
"It was a little bit slower pace than I expected," Mercier said. "We might have been a little winded from the long week."
On Tuesday, North Central visits Mid Peninsula and North Dickinson (6-2, 1-2) travels to unbeaten Forest Park.
"Give them the credit," Mattson said. "They played better than we did. We're going to have to play better to beat a team like that."
Dawson Bilski's 38 points powered North Central's junior varsity past North Dickinson. Lucas Jauquet led the Nordics.
North Central 11 17 12 19 - 59
North Dickinson 12 6 13 14 - 45
NORTH CENTRAL: Polfus 3, Whitens 8, R. Granquist 17, J. Granquist 6, Martin 15, Ekberg 8, Prestay 2. FT: 17-28. F: 19.
NORTH DICKINSON: Berg 10, Roell 3, O'Neil 11, Johnson 12, Clark 7, Gustafson 2. FT: 5-14. F: 20.
3-point FG: O'Neil, Johnson 2, Clark, J. Granquist, Martin. FG shooting: North Dickinson 18-50, North Central 20 made. Rebounding: North Dickinson 26 (Berg 10, Clark 7).