Top 31 Moments in the UP! #27 – Battle of Rockets and Wolverines

Justin Marietti |Daily Press

Justin Marietti |Daily Press

High School Basketball in the UP can be described in one word, “Heart.” The passion the kids display on the court every time they play, the mom’s and dad’s in the bleachers cheering on and watching their child play for their hometown, and the fact these athletes represent the city name on the jersey rather than just a mascot or a school name.

So on a cold night in Perkins on December 28, 2012 I witnessed a few things I had not seen before in my entire life. (Watch highlights below)

I got to the game at half time after covering the first few minutes of the Superior Central at Gwinn. The scoreboard read Rapid River Rockets 25 Mid Peninsula Wolverines 15.  I thought to myself, “What? That is not the score. Rapid River has not won a game all year!”

Then I saw Daily Press reporter Justin Marietti and he told me as time expired in the first half, Rapid River’s Robert Metter made a three at the buzzer and Rapid River fans in attendance went crazy. I was in for a tremendous second half. It was so good, it created a lasting memory in my mind.

The Wolverines kept chipping at the lead in the third quarter with points in the paint and the Rockets went into the fourth quarter clinging to a 37-34 lead. While they may have had the lead, the momentum clearly changed in the third quarter.

That’s when the monster himself came to life, Double B aka Brett Branstrom. He grabbed big rebounds, went coast to coast with speed and athleticism to finish at the rim, and not to mention showing that shooting touch by knocking down a big three with hands in his face. He finished with 27 points and 18 rebounds to go with six blocks. I had not seen a player all season up to that point put a team on his back. He became a star in my eyes right after seeing that performance. It truly was an incredible display of perseverance by the senior.

But here was the key play! The game was tied at 45, Brett Branstrom block a shot on defense that turned into an outlet pass to Chad Branstrom, who was fouled at the basket. Two free throw shots were in order until a Rapid River fan went ballistic in the stands about the previous call by the referees and started to yell and point at the two gentlemen working the game.

So the zebras stopped the game and threw the fan yelling at the refs out of the gym which resulted in a technical foul on Rapid River Coach Craig Carter. Now those two free shots turned into four in just a matter of minutes. Mr. Chad Branstrom proceeded to hit all four free throws to secure the 54-49 win that night.

I had never seen anything like that before in my life. The game was basically decided on a technical foul. The lead went from a tied game to a Wolverine four point advantage with under 2 minutes remaining. The Rockets fan base were so upset with the referees calls in the second half, every play resulted in screaming and yelling. The gym got loud and changed from excitement to anger in just a matter of 12 minutes. Crazy!

The lesson I learned from that game was let the kids play and allow the kids to make the difference in the game, not the parents. It’s something that is ongoing in youth sports in this day and age and it showed in this high school basketball game just days before the New Year. I think a lot of fans made a few New Year’s resolutions after driving home from that contest.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Basketball, High School, Top 31 UP Sports Moments, Upper Peninsula

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