North Central’s Polfus reflects on memorable game-winner

Dennis Grall/ Escanaba Daily Press Seth Polfus of North Central prepares to hoist his game-winning shot against Southfield Christian Thursday in a Class D semifinal in East Lansing. The Jets won 84-83 in double overtime and will play Buckley at 10 a.m. Saturday in quest of their third straight championship.

EAST LANSING — Dreams do come true in sports, but even Seth Polfus admitted this scenario was way above and beyond anything he ever imagined.

Simply put, Polfus made an ad-lib shot as time elapsed here Thursday night to send the North Central Jets into a third consecutive Class D state championship game while also enabling them to extend their state record winning streak to 82 straight boys basketball games with the most unlikely finish in anyone’s memory.

Polfus, who you would think would be the last target in such a situation, bobbled the pass from Dawson Bilski, managed to retrieve it and flip up a shot from about eight feet left of the lane that rolled around the rim and fell into the net after the buzzer sound.

The shot, taken with about two-tenths of a second left in the second overtime, lifted the Jets to an unbelievable 84-83 victory over Southfield Christian at Michigan State University’s Breslin Center. It ignited an hellacious celebration, until it was announced the play was under review.

Senior teammate Jason Whitens said later, “I didn’t even know they could do that in high school.” Marcus Krachinski, who was the first to hear the play would be reviewed, said, “My heart started racing. I said ‘please let the ball go through before the buzzer.'”

When the announcer said the basket counted, the Jets had an instant replay of their celebration in what has to rank among the all-time great finishes.

“I had faith he got it off in time,’ Whitens said after a mass news media session ended.

Polfus, also talking about the play after the press conference, said “I didn’t even dream about that last night,” indicating there is no way he would have ever expected to see the ball with the game on the line.

In fact, of the 10 starters in the semifinal game matching the top-ranked and two-time defending state champions against the No. 2 Eagles, Polfus had the fewest points of all of them, finishing with seven.

The Eagles had Whitens, the state’s co-Player of the Year, blanketed when Bilski got the ball atop the key after Brock Washington’s triple gave the Eagles an 83-82 lead with 8.1 seconds left. Under heavy pressure, with Krachinski also covered, Bilski somehow spotted Polfus near the baseline and leaped to fire the pass.

“Dawson made a heads-up play,” said Jets’ coach Adam Mercier.

Bilski said, “I turned and looked for the best player in Class D. Then I saw Seth.

“I threw it a little low to him,” he said, noting he saw six seconds were on the clock as he made the pass. “Everything was clicking in my mind. These are moments that kids look for.”

After retrieving the ball, Polfus turned to the basket and unloaded. “It was all reaction,” he said. “I had no idea how much time was on the clock. I feel I was lucky just to get it up there. I pump faked. I had an opening and threw it up there, then it rolls around the rim. That shows the trust he (Bilski) has in me.”

Mercier said that is what has been an integral part of this squad’s record-setting performance. “Win or lose tonight, these guys have already built their legacy,” he said.

Bilski, a Class D all-stater, agreed later, noting “we’ve already proved our legacy. This is the game we will watch for the rest of our lives. This adds on to our legacy.”

Whitens simply said, “I never had any doubt. We do whatever it takes.”