CARNEY - When a great team is at the top, they tend to walk around with a bulls-eye on their back. All the other teams want to be the one to knock them back down to earth.
The Munising Mustangs managed to pull it off, as they came into Carney-Nadeau Monday night and dethroned the No. 1-ranked Wolves, winning 40-37 in a Central U.P. conference matchup.
"I'm just ecstatic with the effort we put in the whole game," said Munising coach Dan Waterman. "We were able to hang around long enough, and in the fourth quarter we made some big shots, Noah Ackerman had a huge triple to put us up by three, and it really switched the pressure from us to them."
Justin Marietti | Daily Press
Carney-Nadeau’s Keenan Lampinen puts up a shot as Munising’s Ben Stasewich (34) defends and Michael Mannisto (12) looks on during the first half of their game Monday, in Carney. The Mustangs won 40-37.
It was a very chippy game from start to finish, and finding a good look for either team was a rarity. After the first quarter, the Wolves had a slight 12-7 advantage.
Carney began the second quarter with a triple from Keenan Lampinen that might have made some feel like the Wolves (7-1, 5-1 CUP) were beginning to pull away. However, the Mustangs (5-1, 3-0) worked their way inside the paint, and their offensive rebounding helped keep them in the game.
Both teams put up eight points in the second, and Munising's Gage Webster nailed a three-pointer from about four feet behind the line to cut the lead to five entering halftime.
Munising 7 8 14 11 - 40
Carney-Nadeau 12 8 12 5 - 37
Munising - Immel 6, Ackerman 5, Webster 13, Hill 1, Stasewich 15; FT: 4-9; F: 16; Technical foul: Stasewich; Fouled out: Stasewich; 3-point field goals: Immel 2, Ackerman 1, Webster 3
Carney-Nadeau - Blahnik 3, Johnson 10, Schetter 12, Lampinen 12; FT; 5-10; F: 14; Fouled out: none; 3-point field goals: Blahnik, Johnson, Schetter, Lampinen
The tide began to turn in the third quarter, in large part due to the efforts of Munising's Ben Stasewich. The Mustangs opened up the second half with another triple from Webster, and then Stasewich repeatedly worked his way inside for easy buckets. One of those layups tied the game 24-24, and an already physical game got even more so heading into the final minutes of the quarter.
Carney entered the fourth quarter clinging to just a three-point lead. It was erased early, as back-to-back baskets from Munising's Noah Ackerman and Stasewich gave them a 33-32 advantage. The Wolves and Mustangs exchanged blows until Ackerman broke a 35-35 tie with a huge three-pointer from the corner that would essentially be the dagger.
Wade Schetter managed to come up with a steal, and brought it in himself for the fast break layup to cut the Mustangs lead to one. But on a nice play call from Munising, Webster was able to find a good look inside, and it was 40-37 with just 22 seconds left.
Schetter was able to get a decent look for a three-pointer, but it just didn't fall. The Mustangs crowd couldn't have been happier as they watched the final seconds expire.
"We knew that Carney is an extremely well-coached, well-rounded team, and we were going to have to play really well to win," Waterman said. "And I thought our kids did that. They played extremely hard, and managed to keep it close enough to give ourselves a chance."
Munising snapped the Wolves' 18-game home win streak that dated back to Dec. 20, 2010 when they fell to Superior Central. They had also won 21 straight in the regular season, dating back to Dec. 19, 2011.
Webster, a senior guard for the Mustangs, said the win was a great achievement for this team.
"We got some revenge from the regional finals last year when they beat us," he said. "It was an amazing win, just awesome."
Wolves coach Jake Polfus said that despite his team's success, the games was a good learning experience.
"Munising worked the ball nicely, and took us out of our style of play," he said. "They played very good defense, and (Stasewich) hurt us toward the end. We just have to learn from this and move on.
Carney, which won the jayvee game 39-29, hosts Republic-Michigamme Thursday.