Escanaba Daily Press

CARNEY — Junior Brett LaFord scored 19 points and Carney-Nadeau routed Rapid River 68-41 in the season opener for both teams here Monday. The Wolves took command of the game with a big second quarter and didn’t look back.

“We moved the ball a lot better and made shots after the first quarter,” Wolves’ coach Jacob Polfus said. “We had success because we started sharing the ball better.”

Rapid River led 15-13 at the end of the first quarter but after trailing 19-17 the Wolves went on an 8-0 run with 4:38 left to play in the half that put them up 25-19 and they never trailed again. The run was capped by a steal and score by LaFord off of a press the Wolves began to use in the second quarter.

“We let the kids press on their own,” Polfus said. “When they’re feeling good and want to get up in their man’s face, we let them. We usually try to avoid doing that right at the start of the game to keep them from getting too chaotic.”

The Wolves (1-0) had a 20-point second quarter, finishing the half strong by outscoring the Rockets 16-6 over the last 6:42 and took a 33-25 lead into halftime. They continued their dominant play in the third, starting off on a 9-2 run during the first three minutes. The Rockets continued to struggle against the press and Carney was able to close the period with a 16-point advantage.

“We have to give them a lot of credit because Jake (Polfus) always has his team prepared,” Rockets’ coach Rich Poma said. “Our lack of practice time together really showed tonight. We probably should have had some scrimmages in there somewhere before we played our first game.”

The Rockets’ season started a week later than scheduled due to their extended football season when they won the state championship. Poma wouldn’t use that as an excuse, but added his team is still getting into that basketball mode right now.

“We really lack experience right now,” he said. “But this game tonight was more about Carney’s defense than it was about us not being ready to play.” The Wolves started the fourth quarter on a 9-1 run to put any thought of a Rockets’ comeback to bed.

Their was a huge difference in shooting for both teams, as the Rockets (0-1) missed several lay-ups and finished just 3-13 from the free throw line. In contrast, the Wolves hit seven three-pointers and finished 11-15 from the charity stripe.

“So far, we’ve been shooting good in practice,” Poma said. “Our lack of game experience showed because we couldn’t make any of those tonight. We talked about it in the locker room after the game, we have to make those shots.”

The Wolves had a spectacular shooting night, but Polfus knows his team can’t get too reliant on outside shooting.

“Tomorrow in practice I’m going to have to let them know we can’t rely on that good of outside shooting every night,” he said. “We’re going to have to learn to get to the hole.”

LaFord led the Wolves with 19 points. Beau Koffman chipped in with 16 and Max Baumler added 11.

Tyler Sundling was the lone Rocket in double figures with 13. He battled foul trouble and frustration in the second half.

“We’re going to need him (Sundling) to be a leader,” Poma said.

Rapid River hosts Norway on Wednesday, while Carney is at North Dickinson Thursday.