HARRIS - Victory was in the grasp of the Bark River-Harris Broncos boys basketball team. Then it all slipped away in the fourth quarter, as the Munising Mustangs escaped 49-43 in Central U.P. Conference action Tuesday night.
The Broncos' boys built a 12-9 lead after the first quarter, a 19-16 lead at halftime and a 35-34 lead after the third quarter against the No. 5 team in Class D, but couldn't close.
"I've read some articles and some of the U.P. sportswriters think Munising is one of the best teams in the U.P., no matter what class," said Broncos coach Matt Richer. "Hopefully, I can get my kids to buy in and say, 'Hey, we are that close if we work hard in practice and put in a little more time shooting.'"
Munising’s Noah Ackerman tries to get off a shot against Bark River-Harris’ Cody VanBrocklin during the first half on Tuesday night in Harris. (Escanaba Daily Press photo by Keith Shelton)
It was a game that boiled down to a number of things, but there was a certainly a flair for the dramatic as well.
The Mustangs held a 43-37 lead with just over four minutes remaining before the Broncos began their run. Getting points off the fast break, Cody VanBrocklin and Kyle Kleiman got a couple quick buckets with a Munising turnover in-between. Another Mustangs' turnover followed and it looked like the tying basket was in hand, but the shot didn't fall. From there, Cody Welch fouled out and the Mustangs made four-of-six free throws in the final minute to seal the victory.
"Their kids kept fighting. They made a run at the end of the third quarter, which we kind of answered at the beginning of the fourth," said Mustangs' coach Dan Waterman. "We were just trying to run the clock out and kill the game, and their kids kept scrapping and our six-point lead almost vanished.
"It was down to two points and (Bark River-Harris) had the ball. We're happy as heck to get the win. We feel like we're escaping actually."
Gage Webster led the Mustangs with 22 points. Ben Stasewich added 13 points with 12 rebounds.
For the Broncos, Kleiman scored 14 points with six rebounds and VanBrocklin added 10 points.
"You have to give them credit. They really confused us in the first half," said Waterman. "We haven't seen a zone like that in a long time, so it kept us guessing."