North Central prepares for state semis

POWERS — A year ago, the North Central Jets were watching the state championship tournament from home. But this year is different as they are inching closer to bringing home another state title for the U.P. as last night’s victory over Hillman has sent the Jets to the state semi–finals at the Breslin Center.

They’ll go up against Fulton, who are dangerous from three–point range. This team is no pushover as they have won 20–plus games in six of the last seven years. And Jets coach Adam Mercier has done his homework on this team and they seem to be very similar to the Hillman team they just played against.

“They have two knock down shooters on the wings. They have a point guard that’s an all–state player that’s very similar to Van Pammel size–wise and athletic ability. We’re kind of following the same gameplan we’ve followed for the last week in terms of locking down the paint, trying to keep our guy in front of us and not helping off of certain players,” Mercier said.

North Central averages about 72 points per game despite playing a strong schedule, including six games against top–10 teams. But Mercier says that proves how tough his team is.

“We feel as though we are battle tested. We’ve played a really good schedule and we want to represent the Upper Peninsula and our community and show everyone what we are capable of doing. We feel we have some of the best players in the state. We just got to perform and play basketball tomorrow night,” Mercier said.

The Jets will look to Jason Whitens to continue his hot streak and he’s got more of a reason to smile as he has been named to the Associated Press Class D All–State team. Whitens is the only underclassmen on the whole team.