POWERS — North Central met Cedarville in the Class ‘D’ Quarterfinals at Marquette Senior High School back on March 18, 2014.
The game was more like a boxing match, as the Jets and Trojans traded blows all night long. With less than 20 seconds left, the Jets found themselves down by two.
Jason Whitens thought he had tied the game and was going to the free throw line to win it as time expired. But that wasn’t the case.
The basket was waived off. Whitens, a freshman at the time, had to make two free throws to extend the game to overtime.
The first one rolled out. Cedarville won the game, 81 to 79.
“Life isn’t fair sometimes,” said Jets head coach Adam Mercier. “However that game ended, Cedarville beat us. They got to represent the Upper Peninsula downstate.”
“After the game, all his friends were consoling him,” said Mercier about Whiten’s missing the free throw at the end of the game. “They made sure that he knew he was going to bounce back from it.”
“There wasn’t really nothing to say,” said Whitens. “It’s hard to say stuff after that because there’s a lot of emotions and a lot of things going through your head at that time.”
As tough as a loss as that was for North Central, the Jets have rebounded in a big way this season.
“Losing does change your mindset a little bit about big situations,” said Mercier. “Jason bounced back and the rest of the players have learned from that, always trusting each other and having each others back.”
“Basketball is not everything. Yeah, it’s a big part of my life and most of my teammates’ lives, but you got to look beyond that and I’ve really matured from that point,” explained Whitens.
Coach Mercer’s team is 24-0 this season, heading into their quarterfinal matchup against Hillman, three victories away from the Jets first state title since 1984.
“There’s a little pressure because you want to make the U.P. proud,” said Jets senior Rob Granquist. “You just want to get out there and play. The wait seems like it takes forever. It’s only been a couple of days since we played, but it feels like it’s been the entirety of a season. We just want to make the community proud.”
“The last time we won it my dad was on the team,” said Whitens. “It would mean a lot to us if we brought one home.”