NEGAUNEE — In sports, these are teams that you know will be in the playoff picture each and every year. One team that fits that bill is the North Central boys basketball team. They’re the defending Class D champs and after Wednesday night’s performance in the regional championship, we are left to ponder if this team is better than they were last year.
The Jets pounded Forest Park 75–45, thanks to a first half that saw them score 52 points to go up by 30 at halftime. North Central had four players score in double digits, led by Jason Whitens who dropped 22 points and added 10 rebounds. When asked about their success this season, the team was quick to point out the amazing depth they have when it comes to scoring.
“Well I think we’re gelling at the right time again. I think the same thing happened last year. We gelled at the right time. We’re defending well, pushing the ball in transition. I think this year, we’re having four or five guys score every game so we’re hard to scout. And that’s where we need to keep doing. We need to have them guard five and other guys are stepping up in big moments,” head coach Adam Mercier said.
“We just knew we had to come out and go hard. We had to run the floor and get in transition because we knew we had guys on the bench that were ready to play and we just wanted to get everyone involved,” said forward Jason Whitens.
“Having guys on my team that can go off on at any point, it’s nice. If one guy is off for one night, you give it to the other guy and he might be on. If he’s not on, you give to the other guy, and so on and so forth,” guard Dawson Bilski said.
This makes it four straight regional championships for the Jets and they say the support they have gotten from the community had been the best part of this ride.
“It does so much for us. It boosts our ego. It really brings us all together as a community so it feels great really,” center Morgan Cox said.
“It means a lot. Our community deserves it. They’ve been supporting us for a long time and they deserve everything. They deserve coming here and supporting us and it’s great to have their support,” said Whitens.
North Central moves to face Onoway Tuesday night in the state quarterfinals. That game will tip off at 7pm in Sault Ste. Marie.