STEPHENSON — Joey Starzynski scored a game-high 26 points, but the Stephenson boys basketball team came up short against North Central on Tuesday in a 64-56 loss. 

The Jets led 16-10 after the first quarter but the Eagles roared back in the second to head into halftime leading 29-28. 

“(In the second quarter) We picked up the pressure, caused some turnovers and that’s when we’re playing our best ball,” Eagles coach Eric Panske said. “We got a little tired later on in the second but we held on to take a lead into halftime with a different group on the floor.” 

Free throws and Griffin Johnson were the difference for the Jets in the second half. North Central went to the line 18 times and made 13 against Stephenson making 4-of-8 tries, outscored the Eagles by nine points in the second half and Johnson knocked down a couple 3-pointers in big situations to go home with the win.

“It was a back-and-forth game but in the second half the reffing got a little inconsistent with how it was in the first half,” Panske said. “Johnson made a couple big 3s and they made their free throws down the stretch. It just didn’t fall our way tonight.”

Johnson scored 21 points to lead North Central; Brady Eickmeier had 13 and Noah Gorzinski chipped-in eight.

Bryce Kuehnau had nine points to back up Starzynski; Ashton Barstow scored eight and Merlin Thoune and Preston Kuntze added three each.

Stephenson plays host to Munising on Thursday.