EAST LANSING, MICH. — Fans traveled 6 ½ hours to come down to the Breslin Center to see North Central make history to get their third straight Class D State Title. And they would have their hands full in the championship game against Buckley.
First possession of the game for the Jets, and it’s Dawson Bilski taking it all the way to the hoop and what an opening quarter, as he scored an MHSAA record 18 points in the first quarter, as the Jets led 38 to 20. Second quarter, North Central looking to blow this one open, Bobby Kleiman’s triple is good, as the Jets led 54-40 at the half.
Third quarter, Marcus Kruchinski with the drive to the hoop and the layup is good. The Bears would cut the lead all the way down to four points in the fourth quarter, but Jason Whitens was determined to bring home another state title for North Central.
He finished with 23 points as the Jets win it, 78 to 69, to capture the Class D State Championship, their third in a row and their 83rd consecutive win.
“It’s the best thing anyone can ever accomplish in their life,” said Dawson Bilski. “Being able to come down to the Breslin three times in a row without losing… I mean I’ve played plenty of basketball games and I haven’t lost ever in my life from my JV years to my varsity years, so coming and playing here is just something you never think would happen and it happened to me and it happened to all of my friends and I couldn’t believe it.”
“Like Bobby said, it all comes back to family. There isn’t a bunch of guys that I’d rather do this with,” said Jason Whitens. “You don’t look at the wins, you don’t look at the championships won, you look at the time spent with each other. It’s just so special- the laughs on the bus, the laughs in the hotel room, the laughs never end. We’re going to love each other forever. We’re a family.”
“It means a lot of course, you don’t want to downplay it anytime but we reached a lot of goals this year,” said head coach Adam Mercier. “We won a district championship, we won a regional championship, we wanted to get back down here and play against Southfield Christian, that was one of our goals. We didn’t know if we were going to be able to beat them. It’s a great team. On film they’re scary good.”
“So when we won on Thursday, we were definitely playing on house money now. We didn’t know what to expect with our legs Saturday morning like we are, but boy it’s just a culmination of a lot of great kids that we’ve had the last three years, not just the last three but the last five, six years. Our kids have been fantastic. We’ve had a great run and it’s going to continue. Our young kids are going to keep playing hard. For our six seniors to go out the way they did today, it’s just unbelievable,” Coach Mercier added.