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5910 articles
Wednesday April 24, 2024
SURVIVAL MODE: Norse Fend Off Alpena On Road

Click the thumbnails to see photos and videos, and to hear post-game comments from Ryan Sweeney and from Norse Coach Matt Johnson.

The Bay College men's basketball team was in survival mode Wednesday night as the Norse had to fend off an upset-minded Alpena Community College Lumberjack team on the road.

Bay watched a 14-point halftime lead evaporate in the first five minutes of the second half, as the Lumberjacks rode the backs of their top player, Elijah Hennings, and an extremely loud crowd mostly dressed in pink, to take a 51-48 lead.

The Norse were on the brink of having their 23-game MCCAA North Conference winning streak snapped. But that's when sophomore Baril Mawo took over, with some help from his friends.

The Norse scored 13 straight points to regain control, and they went on to win a tough battle, 66-57, to strengthen their grip on the top spot in the conference standings. The Norse maintained a two-game lead over second place Mid Michigan, heading into a pair of home games this Saturday and next Wednesday.

Hennings ended up with 30 points for Alpena, and he scored 21 of them in the second half. He gave the Lumberjacks their first lead since early in the game at 49-48 with a driving lay-up.

With the score 51-48, the Norse got their wake-up call.

First, it was Ryan Sweeney to the baseline for a bucket. Then, after a defensive stop, it was Ibrahim Diakite in the paint to put Bay back in front.

Then, it was Mawo, playing with a sore knee, scoring on a put-back to give the Norse a 54-51 lead. And the play that sealed it was an emphatic blocked shot by Diakite at one end of the court, and a driving “and-one” lay-up at the other end for Mawo.

That made it 61-51, and at least for another couple of days, disaster was averted for the 16th-ranked NJCAA-II team in the country.

Bay was shorthanded in this one, especially at the guard position, with Nic Williams and Kairee Gadson both injured. Guard/forward Easton Clements was also out of the line-up, leaving the Norse with just eight healthy bodies.

Ezra Brown filled in nicely at one guard position, scoring nine points, five assists, and six rebounds. Ryan Sweeney carried the load at the other, playing 38 minutes, scoring 13 points, and dishing our four assists to go along with five rebounds.

Genesis Kemp contributed 15 points, making three clutch triples along the way. And big man Joe Ofori played 30 minutes and had 12 points and grabbed five rebounds.

It was All Hands On Deck.

Bay was absolutely terrible at the free throw line in this one. The Norse missed 10 of their first 11 foul shots, and ended up going just seven-of-18 from the charity stripe.

In fact, Hennings himself outdid the entire Norse team at the foul line, making twelve of his 13 free throw attempts.

Despite the loss, Alpena remains in third place with a 6-4 conference record, one game ahead of Muskegon. Finishing third would give ACC a home game in the first round of the regional playoffs. Besides Hennings' 30 points, Trevon Johnson added ten points and Daddy Hill chipped in seven for the Lumberjacks.

For the Norse, it was a playoff-type intensity that they'll likely see almost every night out the rest of the way.

Bay improved to 23-2 overall and 10-0 in the MCCAA, with five games left to play.

First up is Alumni Day on Saturday as the Muskegon Jayhawks (9-14 overall, 5-5 MCCA) come to town. Game time is 3:00 and it will be broadcast on Maverick 106.3 and on-line through the audio link at www.baynorse.com.

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