• HS Baseball 4/23: Kingsford 6, Marquette 2
  • HS Baseball 4/23: Norway 15, North Central 0
  • HS Softball 4/23: Gladstone 10, Menominee 0
  • HS Softball 4/23: Negaunee 5, Escanaba 1
  • HS Softball 4/23: Calumet 15, Kingsford 3
  • HS Baseball 4/23: Negaunee 3, Hancock 2
  • HS Softball 4/23: Norway 9, North Dickinson 5
  • HS Softball 4/23: Sault Ste. Marie 20, Marquette 10
5910 articles
Wednesday April 24, 2024
ROLLING ALONG: Norse Crush Kirtland; Now 25-2

Click the thumbnails to see photos and videos, and to hear post-game comments from Cade LaFavor, Dominic Haller, and Coach Matt Johnson. Also click to listen to the player spotlight interview with Joe Ofori.

The Bay College Norse men's basketball team led from start-to-finish Wednesday night and rolled to a 106-31 win over the Kirtland Community College Firebirds from Lower Michigan.


The win was Bay's 26th straight in the MCCAA North Conference going back to last year, and guaranteed the Norse of at least a tie for this year's conference championship with two games left in the regular season.


The Norse maintained their best-ever ranking in the NJCAA-II National Polls at No. 15, and Bay improved its best-ever season record to 25-2 overall (12-0 MCCAA North).


“There's always things we can work on,” Norse Coach Matt Johnson said. “Our free throw shooting wasn't great (10-of-21). But we held a college basketball team to 31 points. It was fun. I was happy for the guys. It was a great team effort. Every one of our guys played really well.”


Bay jumped to a 20-4 lead after a strong start at both ends of the court, and the Sophomore Night crowd was electrified by slam dunks from Cade LaFavor, Ryan Sweeney, and Ibrahim Diakite. And local Escanaba favorite Connor Smale, a sophomore transfer from the now-defunct Finlandia University, nailed five triples in his hometown on the way to a career-high 17 points.


Bay led, 52-9, at halftime, and all twelve Norse players who suited up scored in the contest. Five Norse players scored in double figures as the team won its 13th straight game overall.


LaFavor, who played very little last season and comes off the bench in his sophomore season, usually plays a couple minutes here and there to give other guys a break. But in this game, LaFavor played 25 minutes, and he didn't waste them. He made five of his six shots from the floor and had 12 rebounds to go along with his career-high eleven points.


“I'm tired,” LaFavor admitted after the game. “That's a lot of minutes. I think the most (before) was 15. It felt good. It took a lot of time for me to finally do what I'm supposed to do on the court, and I'm glad it happened.”


And, not one, but TWO slam dunks among his eleven points.


“I think it's my first time dunking in a collegiate-level game,” LaFavor said. “So, that was pretty nice.”


LaFavor also blocked four shots on defense, had two assists, and three steals as part of his Player of the Game performance.


“He absolutely killed it,” Johnson said. “Talk about packing a stat sheet. That's incredible. He was producing really well.”


As a team, the Norse shot 54-percent from the floor (41-of-76), including 14-of-32 (44-percent) on three-point shots. Bay outrebounded Kirtland, 58-21.


Diakite contributed eight points and eleven rebounds, and Joe Ofori had 16 points and eight rebounds. Genesis Kemp scored a team-high 18 points on seven-of-14 shooting, and he made four triples.


One of the “bench” players who came through was Sault Ste. Marie native Dominic Haller, who drained three triples for nine points. He says it was great to get 16 minutes of playing time, after getting little, if any, playing time in most of this season's games.


“It felt good,” Haller said. “It was a good team win. That was what we needed to do. I mean, I know e have a good team, and it's hard preparation for the game when you know you might not get too many minutes. But you do what you've got to do. We all (bench players) compete pretty good. If we can make the starters better, I do whatever I can do to help them”


And what about getting out there himself in this game?


“It felt good to get the opportunity and I knocked some shots down,” Haller said. “It was nice. And we hit all the goals we set before the game.”


Kirtland (0-17 overall, 0-11 MCCAA) was led by Dezmond Larose and Marco Broome-Hernandez, both of whom scored ten points.


The Norse virtually assured themselves of a second straight conference championship, with only a complicated set of tiebreakers keeping Mid Michigan alive for creating a first place tie and also taking the top spot.


Should the Norse hold onto the top spot this weekend, they will host the MCCAA state championship March 1-2, with Macomb Community College and Kalamazoo Valley College both making the long trip to Escanaba to play in a three-team tournament.


Before that, however, the Norse will go downstate to play two tough games to close the regular season. They will face Delta College (9-12 overall, 3-8 MCCAA) on Saturday, and then battle Mid Michigan College (18-7 overall, 10-2 MCCAA) on Tuesday. Both games will be broadcast on Maverick 106.3 FM and on-line through the link at www.baynorse.com.

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