North Central wins first title since 1984 as it rolls past Morenci 67-47 in the Class D final
East Lansing – All season long, Powers North Central has been one of the top offensive teams in Class D, scoring 70 or more points in a game 16 times this season.
Though the Jets didn’t top the 70-point mark on Saturday, it may have saved its best offensive performance for last.
North Central (27-0) shot a red-hot 70-percent from the field in the first half as they sprinted out to a 19-point halftime lead and cruised past Morenci, 67-47, in the Class D final at the Breslin Center.
It’s North Central’s first state championship since 1984.
North Central coach Adam Mercier said his team shot well from the field all season, but not quite 70-percent, and said he was obviously pleased his team was able to do that in the biggest game of the year.
“On the season, we’re around 50 percent on field goals,” he said. “We take close shots and we’re a mid-range team and it’s something these kids work really hard at, because the game of basketball and the way it is, we have to hit pull-up jumpers and we have some guards that can do that. I don’t know what the percentages were, but I think it was in the 70’s and we’d never done that before, so it was a good time to do that.”
North Central ended the first quarter on a 16-3 run, highlighted by six points by Jason Whitens, and the Jets led 26-17 after the first quarter.
Pacing the North Central attack was senior Rob Granquist, Jr., who scored seven of his 11 points in the first eight minutes.
“Coach and the guys told me that to be aggressive,” he said. “It’s my last game, so I had to go out there and do what I do, they trust me and we trust each other and I’m just trying to be aggressive.”
North Central pulled away in the second quarter as it closed out the half on an 11-0 run, started by a Whitens basket and finished off by back-to-back scores from Bobby Kleiman to give the Jets a 45-26 lead.
Morenci coach Jim Bauer said that his plan coming in was to prevent North Central from getting to the basket and force the Jets into shooting jump shots. As the Jets continued to knock down their shots, it became somewhat demoralizing for his team.
“When your game plan is to do your best to not let them beat you going to the basket and make them shoot from the outside and to see continual shot after shot going in, it’s deflating,” he said. “We knew for us to come out on top, we were going to have to play awesome and they were going to have to miss some shots and we would have to make some shots.”
Whitens led North Central with 19 points and seven rebounds, and Caleb Martin contributed 13 points.
Whitens said that he wasn’t surprised by his team’s domination in East Lansing. North Central won Thursday’s semifinal, 71-46, over Fulton.
“I kind of expect it,” he said. “You don’t go into a game thinking that it’s going to be close or you’re willing to lose, you want to beat them and beat them bad. When you play together, you can do anything.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: Highlights from this game and both semifinal games can be seen on State Champs! on Fox Sports Detroit Sunday at 9: 00 AM on Fox Sports Detroit