It was about as good of an atmosphere as you will find in a high school basketball game.
For 32 minutes, the Port Huron High and Port Huron Northern boys basketball teams battled for area supremacy. In the end, it was the Huskies that had enough fire-power to hold off the Big Reds, 50-45, at the Ed Peltz Holiday Tournament.
Northern advances to face St. Clair tonight at 6:30 p.m. in the championship game. Port Huron will face Croswell-Lexington at 5 p.m. in the consolation game.
“It feels good. It feels amazing actually to win against our rivals,” Port Huron Northern guard Geryd Welsh said after scoring a game-high 26 points. “Our fans do a lot of for us. It’s good to get a win for them.
“We made a couple mistakes and coach (Brian Jamison) told us to keep playing together and not get down on ourselves.”
The Big Reds and Huskies were even for most of the game, before Northern took control in the fourth quarter while making 8 of 13 free throw attempts. Port Huron meanwhile languished form the line, making only 2 of 9 attempts while spending most of the quarter in the double bonus.
“We missed ours and they made their free throws,” Port Huron coach Tony Giancarlo said. “That’s what happened down the stretch. The free throws were the difference and the amazing thing is we work on free throws like crazy.
“But the kids fought hard and they made a lot of plays on the other side. They gained the momentum and the crowd got up and we started forcing some shots. We have to learn what’s a good shot and what’s not depending on the time of the game. Northern has a good player over there that made a lot of nice shots.”
That good player was Welsh, who was dominant in stretches for the Huskies. When he wasn’t scoring from the outside he was setting up his teammates for easy scores.
William Fealko and Nick Trimble each had seven points for Northern while Brandon Doan added six points. Tyler Lee paced Port Huron with 14 points, DeAngielo Sanderson Jr. added 11 points and Jon Miller scored seven.
“I really think we needed to swing the ball more and not settle for jump shots,” Lee said after the loss. “We need to pound the ball inside and we didn’t talk more on defense. We have been working on that in practice to keep talking on defense.”
Up next for Northern is a big contest against St. Clair, which has won the tournament the past two years.
“I told the kids to enjoy it tonight because (on Saturday) we have to be focused,” coach Jamison said. “They are a tough team to play with no prep days. They are so patient and so well coached. They play good defense. They are one of those teams that you would like to have two or three days to prepare for.”
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