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5910 articles
Wednesday April 24, 2024
CHAMPS AGAIN! Norse Slip Past Pioneers, 77-64

Click the thumbnails to see photos and videos, and to hear post-game comments from Joe Ofori and Coach Matt Johnson. Also click the AUDIO button to hear Ibrahim Diakite's player spotlight interview.

The Bay College Norse men's basketball team clinched its second straight MCCAA North Conference championship on Saturday, beating the shorthanded Delta College Pioneers, 77-64, in Lower Michigan.


The Norse trailed by a point early in the second half before finally pulling away down the stretch. Bay won its 27th straight MCCAA North Conference game, going back to last season, and earned the right to host the state championships next weekend.


“It was a lot of things, and pretty was not one of them,” Bay College Coach Matt Johnson said. “But we're conference champs, and that's something this group can be proud of forever. Today just wasn't our best, and I kind of expected that. We knew the energy in here was going to be low, and they were down a couple of guys. But at the end of the day, 13-0. We did enough. I'll take it.”


The Norse held a nine-point lead twice in the first half, but never could add to it. Bay led at halftime, 36-34, but the Pioneers, who had only six players, hung tough. A Ja'Vion Blackwell dunk after a Norse turnover gave Delta a 43-42 lead, before Norse center Joe Ofori keyed a 16-4 run over the next three minutes to give Bay a 58-47 lead.


But Bay struggled with defensive consistency. And Jamahl Trice knocked down a couple of triples, bringing Delta to within 60-55. The Norse got back-to-back baskets from Geneis Kemp and Kairee Gadson to expand the lead to 64-55, and Bay was able to hold off the Pioneers down the stretch.


Ofori led the Norse with 21 points, six rebounds, and four assists. He made 7-of-13 shots from the floor, and sank seven of his nine free throw attempts.


“Man, we came out very lazy,” Ofori said. “We didn't really have energy, so those type of games are hard to battle, but we pushed through. I took it kind of upon myself to try to bring energy for the team. I know one thing. If my offense is not going, then I have to bring it on defense. I got a couple of blocks and assists and rebounds to start the game, and I knew that energy would help. I'm just happy we got the win.”


Gadson added 16 points, Kemp contributed 14 points and seven rebounds, and Ryan Sweeney had 13 points and dished out seven assists. Baril Mawo chipped in eight points and a team-high ten rebounds.


Jamahl Trice led the Delta College (9-13 overall, 3-9 MCCAA) with 22 points, and Izaiah Schmidt came off the bench to score 12 points.


The win allows Bay College (26-2 overall, 13-0 MCCAA, No. 15 national ranking) to clinch the North Conference title and host the state championship next weekend. The East champion Macomb Community College will face the West champion, Kalamazoo Valley, Friday night in Escanaba. The Norse will take on the winner on Saturday.


“I would really like to sell out the gym for Saturday,” Johnson said. “We've got a couple of ideas for what we can do to promote it. We would love to have all of the basketball fans from our community there to support us.”


Before that, though, some unfinished business Tuesday, as the Norse take on the second place Mid Michigan Lakers (21-7 overall, 11-2 MCCAA) in Mount Pleasant to close the regular season. Game time is 7:30 and it will be broadcast on Maverick 106.3 FM and on-line through the audio link at www.baynorse.com.

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