POWERS — The North Central boys basketball team are back to back Class D champs and they went back home in style, a police escort all the way to the high school, where a packed gym awaited to congratulate them on their historic win.
Among those in attendance was former Jets player Rob Granquist, who was on last year’s championship team, and he says the players have improved a lot since he was on the team.
“Jason has always been an all–around great player. But then you look at Dawson. He has come a long way. He could always shoot, but now you see him playing better defense and he’s driving to the rim. Morgan and Troy developed a lot over the year and they were a big part of the team this year and I’m happy for them two to go out on top,” Granquist said.
Athletic Director Joey Pontbriand was watching the game with everyone back home and even he admitted to being nervous throughout the course of the game.
“As the game went on and we stretched the lead to 17, 18 points and they started coming back, it got a little nerve–racking. But you could tell the kids were never nerved. And it really shows the preparation that these coaches put in and give these kids. They’re just winners and they just know what to do and how to do it and they just got it done,” said Pontbriand.
That makes it three state championships for boys football and basketball at North Central in the past year and the amount of support the athletics program gets from the community says a lot about the impact they have on such a small town in the Upper Peninsula.
“It’s awesome. Everyone here supports these guys. They’re a great group of kids and everyone here knows that so they do what they can to back these guys up and it’s a lot of fun when the whole community is here,” said Granquist.
“Parents, the community members, the faculty at this school have given these kids the opportunity and the kids give back. They understand what it’s about. They understand how much work everyone put into them and they give every amount of effort they can in the classroom and obviously, on the court or the field,” Pontbriand said.
Coach Adam Mercier thanked everyone for their support and wanted to send special thanks to the three seniors on the team: Bryce Holle, Morgan Cox and Troy Ekberg.
Mercier was always asked what led his team to victory and he said the answer is that this team had “it”.
“It’s not coaches. It’s not that we have a 6’5” Class D Player of the Year. It’s not that stuff that makes us “it”. Because you saw that other team and they had a 6’4″ All–State player. I don’t think that team had “it” to beat what we were,” Mercier said.
Saturday’s win makes it 55 straight for the Jets, the fourth–longest streak in MHSAA history.