Rapid River snaps North Central’s 84-game win streak with 65-43 victory
By MIKE MATTSON
RAPID RIVER — In the future, Rapid River’s Logan Hardwick plans to share some good news.
Hardwick and the Rockets defeated state powerhouse North Central 65-43 Thursday night before a packed house at Rapid River High School.
The Rockets made a little history against a team that made mind-boggling state history as the Jets’ incredible 84-game win streak came to an end.
Let the record books show that Rapid River took down the Jets.
“It will be a good story to tell to my grandkids or whoever,” Hardwick said.a
The more-seasoned Rockets survived a first-half challenge from the inexperienced Jets. Rapid River led 27-25 at the half and revved up their transition game to outscore North Central 38-18 in the last two quarters.
Rockets’ coach Rich Poma was all smiles as his team improved to 2-0 with a big win.
“It’s good to do it,” Poma said about snapping the streak. I’m glad we are the ones who did it. But I’m not really focused on that.
“I have a lot of respect for (coach) Adam Mercier and North Central. He’s a great coach and great friend. I’m happy we did it, but at the same time, I was glad he got that record.”
Mercier led North Central to three straight Class D state titles and the 84-game win streak, which included a season-opening victory against Stephenson. He credited the Rockets for a good game, while putting the win streak in perspective.
“Not many teams can say they have a five-game winning streak in their conference let alone an 84,” Mercier said. “For us to have that streak and not have any letdowns — I would like to think our kids battled through some adversity through those years.
“Sure we had some talent, but we also had some outside the lines type of things to keep people engaged and have some quality practices. Sometimes teams can be complacent if they have that much talent. Over the years, our kids kept their nose to the grindstone and always kept the big picture and handled themselves with class.
“There were no heads hanging in the locker room after the game. We understand it’s one game and it’s December. I thought our kids handled themselves well with class on the floor.”
North Central hadn’t lost a game since March 18, 2014 when Cedarville beat the Jets 81-79 in the Class D quarterfinals in Marquette.
Thursday night’s game was a story of two halves. North Central led 16-9 in the first quarter and played the Rockets even before trailing by two at the half.
Hardwick’s 3-point play at the 5:32 mark of the third quarter gave the Rockets a 32-29 advantage and they never looked back. An 8-0 run propelled the hosts to a 45-33 lead entering the fourth quarter.
“We didn’t play very good halfcourt defense in the second half,” Mercier said. “And they took advantage of some transition points. We didn’t let them have that in the first half. The second half they got out and ran and got some inside points.”
Hardwick finished with a game-high 17 points and 12 rebounds to spark the victory.