North Central Jets show why they’re the best Class D boys basketball team in the U.P. by pounding Munising, 83-33

Munising’s Cade Contreras, front right, defends North Central’s Seth Polfus (4) during the first half of their Skyline Central Conference boys basketball game played at the Mustangs’ gym on Tuesday. (Journal photo by Steve Brownlee)

MUNISING — The traveling road show known as North Central boys basketball made its only appearance of the season in Alger County on Tuesday night.

The fans at Munising High School had to go home duly impressed, even if they weren’t pleased with the result, a lopsided 83-33 victory in favor of the Jets.

North Central won its 72nd game in a row, the longest current winning streak in the country, and improved to 17-0 this season in the process.

That includes 11 games decided by 40 points or more. Among those blowouts are wins over Bark River-Harris and Carney-Nadeau, who have been the Jets’ closest pursuers in the Upper Peninsula Class D poll this winter.

Tuesday’s game was all but decided before the first quarter was over despite the Mustangs’ impressive 15-2 record entering the game.

“I knew we’d have to play a perfect game and that they would have to have an off-shooting night,” MHS coach Terry Kienitz said. “Instead, they came out and shot the lights out.

“I still wanted to play our game, pushing the ball upcourt. Maybe it was a mistake, maybe we were too hyped, but we didn’t have the game we needed to have.”

NC was at full strength for the first time in five games after one of its stars among stars, senior Dawson Bilski, returned from an injury.

“I think he’s one of the best players in the U.P.,” NC coach Adam Mercier said.

He certainly didn’t miss a beat, scoring 27 points, all in the first half on the strength of seven 3-pointers. His services weren’t needed in the second half, nearly all of it played with a running clock after the Jets built a 59-22 halftime advantage.

The Mustangs looked to make a game of it for the first two minutes. NC led 11-5 after 100 seconds had elapsed on the strength of a trio of triples made from the left corner. Munising countered with a layup by Cade Contreras and a basket and free throw on separate plays by Jesse Matson.

The Jets’ defense then went to work, stymieing Munising except for three free throws over the next six minutes to take a 32-8 lead.

The Mustangs’ Anthony Mattson nailed a 3-pointer in the final 20 seconds of the opening quarter, but it only brought his team to within 35-11.

NC’s other top player, big man Jason Whitens, showed off his nifty moves by scoring 15 first-quarter points and joined Whitens by finishing with 27. Teammate Bobby Kleiman added 11 points.

The not-quite identically named Mattson and Matson paced Munising scorers with 13 and seven points, respectively.

North Central also won the JV game, 63-48.

Munising gets a bit of a break on Friday, playing a nonconference game at one-win Manistique before finishing the regular season at home against Newberry on March 2.

Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 246. His email address is