Munising displays it with first-ever boys state title in 39-37 win over Wyoming Tri-unity

Munising’s Carson Kienitz, left, dribbles around Wyoming Tri-unity Christian’s Roy Fogg during the MHSAA Division 4 boys basketball state championship game played at Michigan State University’s Breslin Center in East Lansing on Saturday, March 25, 2023. (Photo courtesy MHSAA)

EAST LANSING — The tears of joy could be seen throughout the state, and of course, the chants of “U.P. Power!” could be heard loud and clear for everyone around the state.

Simply put, there might not have ever been a better day to be a Munising Mustang.

For the first time in school history, Munising won a state championship in boys basketball, outlasting defending state champion Wyoming Tri-unity Christian, 39-37, in the MHSAA Division 4 state championship game at Michigan State University’s Breslin Center on Saturday morning.

People anywhere in the state could witness the feat on Bally Sports Detroit if they weren’t in attendance in East Lansing.

When the final horn sounded, Munising fans who made the roughly six-hour trek erupted in celebration, serenading the players with chants of “U.P. Power!”

Munising senior Hayden Rockhill, facing at center, embraces sophomore teammate Trevor Nolan after Munising’s 39-37 win over Wyoming Tri-Unity Christian in the MHSAA Division 4 boys basketball state championship game at Michigan State University’s Breslin Center in East Lansing on Saturday. (Keith Dunlap/For the Gazette)

On the court, players were overjoyed with emotion, hugging each other and sharing tears of joy.

After the medal ceremony, Munising head coach Terry Kienitz grabbed the state championship trophy and held it proudly in the air as he ran toward the Munising fan section behind the team’s bench.

“It hasn’t sunk in yet,” Kienitz said. “When it was over and you see all the fans crying and everybody crying tears of joy, it’s hard to hold back.”

To achieve this dream, Munising had to display some championship mettle against the defending champions.

Munising held a 25-19 lead with 3:07 remaining in the third quarter, but Tri-unity went on a surge and took a 30-29 lead with 3:46 left in the game after a layup by senior Roy Fogg.

But the Mustangs had an answer.

First, senior Cully Trzeciak hit a 3-pointer from the wing to give Munising a 32-30 lead with 2:10 remaining.

It was the only 3-point attempt of the game for Trzeciak.

“On Thursday (in the semifinals) I was kind of in a slump and missed a lot,” Trzeciak said of that lone attempt Saturday. “But shooters shoot. You’ve got to keep shooting and it felt good.”

Sophomore Trevor Nolan then stole an errant inbounds pass and went in for an uncontested layup with 2:02 left to make it 34-30 Munising.

Senior Kane Nebel then made a free throw with 1:07 remaining to give the Mustangs a 35-30 lead.

Tri-unity Christian pulled within 35-32 with 45.1 seconds left after two free throws by Fogg, but Munising pushed its lead back to two possessions, 37-32, with 33.6 seconds to go after two free throws by sophomore Carson Kienitz, and then went up 39-32 after two free throws by Nebel with 18.6 seconds left.

Things got a little tight at the end for Munising, as Tri-unity cut its deficit to 39-35 with 13.6 seconds left after three free throws by junior Owen Rosendall and then made it 39-37 with 2.8 seconds left after a basket by Rosendall.

But Munising successfully inbounded the ball, avoided a foul and dribbled out the clock to start its celebration.

A week and a half earlier when Munising won its first regional title since 1954, many around the state fell in love with the story of Nebel and his grandfather, Chuck, who was on that ’54 team.

It had taken 69 years for Munising to make it back to the state semifinals, but this year’s group did even better than that by winning it all.

Kane Nebel and the other members of this year’s team can now proudly display championship rings that the 1954 team couldn’t.

While Kane Nebel said he can good-naturedly brag with his grandpa about being a part of the best team in school history, he said Chuck is actually going to be the happiest person of all hearing him do so.

“Absolutely,” Kane Nebel said.

Nebel had 14 points, six rebounds and six assists to lead the way for Munising (27-1). Jack Dusseault added eight points and Nolan seven.

The Mustangs held an 18-15 lead at halftime, and then took a 25-19 lead with 3:07 remaining in the third quarter following two free throws by Trzeciak.

Tri-unity Christian ended the third quarter strong, closing to within 27-25 going into the fourth after a buzzer-beating putback by junior Jordan VanKlompenberg.

Munising got off to a slow start, but ended the first quarter on a 7-0 run to take a 9-8 lead after a 3-pointer from the corner by senior Hayden Rockhill just before the buzzer sounded to end the quarter.

In the second quarter, Munising built a six-point lead at 18-12 with 3:47 remaining until halftime following a pair of free throws by Nebel.

Statistically, there were some wide disparities in the game. Tri-unity held a 39-17 rebounding edge, led by 13 from Akais Giplaye as Nebel and Dusseault each had six for the Mustangs.

On the flip side, while the Defenders were only 4 of 19 on 3-pointers (21%), Munising was 4 of 10 (40%). And the Mustangs had 10 steals to two for Tri-unity, leading to the Defenders committing 15 turnovers to just eight for Munising.

Nebel finished with team highs of six assists and six steals as no Mustangs’ player finished with more than two fouls.

In addition, one of the game’s referees was Adam Karki of Negaunee.

Munising 39, Wyoming Tri-unity Christian 37

MHSAA Division 4 state championship

Saturday at Breslin Center, Michigan

State University, East Lansing

Summary (field goals, free throws, total points)

TRI-UNITY CHRISTIAN — Giplaye 2-0-4, Fogg 4-2-11, VanKlompenberg 6-0-15, Rosendall 1-3-5, Rillema 1-0-2. Totals 14-5-37.

MUNISING — Kienitz 0-2-2, Trzeciak 1-2-5, Dusseault 4-0-8, Nebel 4-5-14, Nolan 3-0-7, Rockhill 1-0-3. Totals 13-9-39.

Score by quarters:

Tri-unity Christian   8    7   10   12  —  37

Munising                  9    9     9   12  —  39

FG shooting: Tri-Unity Christian 14 of 45 (31.1 percent), Munising 13 of 33 (39.4 percent); 3-point shooting: Tri-Unity Christian 4 of 19 (21.1 percent), Munising 4 of 10 (40 percent); FT shooting: Tri-Unity Christian 5 of 7 (71.4 percent), Munising 9 of 14 (64.3 percent); Rebounding, Tri-Unity Christian 39 (Akais Giplaye 13), Munising 17 (Jack Dusseault and Kane Nebel 6 each); Assists, Tri-Unity Christian 8 (Owen Rosendall 6), Munising 8 (Nebel 6); Steals, Tri-Unity Christian 2 (Jordan VanKlompenberg and Trey Rillema 1 each), Munising 10 (Nebel 6); Turnovers, Tri-Unity Christian 15, Munising 8.


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