MARQUETTE - Mark Pap doesn't know what his season free throw percentage is, but after Monday night, it's safe to say it's pretty good.
The 6-foot-6 Marquette Senior High School forward sank 5 of 6 from the charity stripe in the final 35 seconds of play to help his team hold off visiting Petoskey, 64-61, in MHSAA Class A, District 12, boys basketball tournament play.
"I wanted to be at the line (late)," Pap said after scoring a team-high 20 points for the Redmen (17-3). "I knew I had to step up."
He canned four unanswered free throws to give MSHS a 63-56 lead with 19.3 seconds left.
Then, after Louie Lamberti notched a three-point play for the Northmen (16-4) and Pap sank the second of two charity stripe attempts with 10.1 seconds remaining for a 64-59 Marquette advantage.
"He's shooting (free throws) in the 70s (percentage-wise)," MSHS head coach Brad Nelson said. "He's a well-conditioned player, but he was gassed at the end.
"He's just a clutch player we can rely on."
The Redmen will now host Traverse City Central at 6 p.m. on Wednesday in district semifinal play. The Trojans beat T.C. West on Monday night, 42-39.
Pap wound up scoring 10 points in the decisive fourth quarter and hauled in a team-high 10 boards in the game, but he wasn't the only story for Marquette.
Junior point guard Andrew Nyquist tossed in 13 points, junior guard Brad Brow added 12 and junior forward Larry Burnette chipped in 11 - all in the second half when the Redmen outscored Petoskey 46-43.
"We played our best game of the year, offensively and defensively," Nelson said after his Redmen shot 58.5 percent from the field and claimed a 25-16 rebounding edge over the Northmen.
"Andy exploded to the basket at times and I think he was the difference in the game. And we had a chat with Larry at the half and our goal was to get him going."
That was because Burnette was held scoreless in the first 16 minutes as the two teams played to a 7-7 tie in the first quarter and an 18-18 deadlock at intermission.
"My teammates talked me up in the locker room," he said. "I just had to attack the basket like I know how to do.
"(Petoskey) was playing up on me. When they do that, I'm going to burn them."
A key stretch came in the third quarter. After Joe LeBlanc drove for a bucket and teammate Sam Baumgartner - who led the Northmen with 20 points - stole the ball and went coast-to-coast to cut a Petoskey deficit to just 30-29, the Redmen struck quickly.
Burnette buried a 3-point shot and after a Petoskey turnover, Brow also canned a triple to re-energize the Redmen and give them a 36-29 lead.
"Those (treys) were huge," Nelson said. "They gave us some energy and some confidence.
"Brow's triple came in transition, too. We don't shoot many 3s in transition."
Petoskey head coach Dennis Starkey, who also got 15 points from Erik Davenport, said the Redmen have "good players who make good plays."
"We always played from behind. The Redmen took advantage by making big shots," he said.
"It was the kind of game we expected. But we left it all on the court and I'm proud of my players."
The Redmen held a 44-33 lead near the end of the third quarter on a Pap three-point play. But the Northmen got to within 59-56 on a bucket by LeBlanc with 43 seconds left to set up Pap's late heroics.
Craig Remsburg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 251.