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Munising girls win improbable 3rd straight district title

ST. NICHOLAS — Putting the basketball through the hoop was a difficult task for the Rapid River girls here Wednesday night in a 44-31 loss to the Munising Mustangs in a MHSAA Division 4 district championship game.

This marked the third straight title for the Mustangs (8-13), who face Chassell (12-9) or Baraga (19-3) in a regional tournament opener on Tuesday in Kingsford. The Rockets finished 6-15.

“It wasn’t pretty much of the year, but the girls got it done tonight,” Munising coach Matt Mattson said. “I thought Rapid River played a great game.

“This is absolutely one of our most satisfying victories because we fought through some hard times tonight and through the season. We had a nine-game losing streak at one time, but the kids kept battling and were rewarded.”

Senior guard Kristin Goodacre sank a pair of free throws to bring Rapid River within 37-31 with 5:57 left.

The Rockets, however, were unable to put the ball through the hole for the remainder of the contest. They finished 12 of 51 from the field and 5 of 18 at the free throw line.

Foul trouble also hurt Rapid River’s cause as three starters had three fouls apiece by halftime, with two eventually fouling out.

“Having three starters with three fouls made things hard on us,” Rockets coach Scott Goodacre said. “Although Munising played heck of a game. We had momentum a couple times in the second half, but they weathered the storm on us.

“I thought we had some good shots, only we didn’t have enough movement on offense.”

Munising gained a 31-20 lead on a jump shot from top of the key by sophomore point guard Jenna Matson with 5:45 remaining in the third.

Rapid River responded with seven unanswered points, climbing within 31-27 on senior Mya Paulin’s 12-foot set shot on a pass from Goodacre at 2:42.

The Mustangs finished the third with a 6-0 run, gaining a 37-27 cushion on a putback by senior forward Megan Matson.

After the Rockets pulled within six points, Jenna Matson drained a pair of free throws to put the Mustangs up 39-31, then neither team scored for more than three minutes in this physical contest.

Megan Matson finished with 21 points and Jenna Matson 11 in only her second game after missing 10 contests with a chipped bone in her ankle. Goodacre hit 12 for the Rockets.

“It’s great having Jenna back at point,” Megan Matson said. “I couldn’t be happier for her and our team.

“We had other people step up tonight. It’s a great feeling to be a part of this. Both teams played great defense tonight.”

The Mustangs hit 14 of 43 field goals and committed 20 turnovers. The Rockets had 23 miscues.

“We’re a different team with Jenna on the floor,” Mattson said. “We probably risked it a little, although the doctor obviously gave her clearance to play.

“Megan is averaging 20 points a game. We’ve got to rely on her scoring.”

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