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Powers North Central dominates Fulton, returns to Class D Final

By: Jeff Dullack, March 24, 2016, 9:45 pm

East Lansing – Throughout the postseason, Powers North Central, the defending Class D state champions, was regarded as the favorite to win the Class D title once again this season.

And on Thursday night, the Jets showed exactly why.

North Central jumped out to an 18-4 first quarter lead and never looked back as it cruised into the state finals for a second straight season with a 64-23 win over Fulton.

North Central coach Adam Mercier said that throughout the season, his team hasn’t paid attention to outside expectations, but rather have focused on what it expects out of itself.

“We don’t try to do anything different,” he said. “They have expectations for themselves, we don’t follow anybody else’s expectations. There’s no pressure on these kids, this is the game of basketball, it’s meant to be played with a lot of passion, a lot of fun and a lot energy, so there shouldn’t be pressure. They’re 17, 18 year old kids just playing the game of basketball and when they play it, they play it so well, they do it as a team and we just try to keep that family type atmosphere around the team at all times.”

In the Class D state championship game, North Central (27-0) will face Waterford Lakes, on Saturday at the Breslin Center in East Lansing.

Jason Whitens scored seven of North Central’s first nine points as the Jets had an early 9-0 lead and scored 11 of the Jets’ 18 first quarter points as North Central never trailed in the game.

Whitens said that having the experience from winning a state title last season gave North Central a bit of an advantage coming into the state finals weekend this year.

“Experience comes a long way and it’s a fun ride,” he said. “It’s still exciting to come back here and play the game we love. So with that experience, coming back, it kind of gives us an advantage and we were ready to go.”

The second quarter was much like the first quarter for North Central as the Jets outscored Fulton 23-5 to take a 41-9 lead into halftime.

Dawson Bilski scored eight second quarter points as the Jets put the game out of reach before halftime.

Whitens scored a game-high 23 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to lead North Centrl, while Morgan Cox scored 12 points in the win and Bilski added in 11.

Whitens said that it’s been a focal point for his team all season long to spread the ball around and said that Thursday’s win was a complete team effort.

“That’s been our mentality all year, to get everyone involved and everyone a little piece of the glory here,” he said. “We have a lot of players who have worked hard for this moment and to get out there and get everyone the ball and to share the glory is really special with these guys.

Fulton (19-7) was led by six points from Colton Antes and five points from Jacob Brunner.