Mustangs stay undefeated after home stretch

The Munising Mustangs remain undefeated after a three-game home stretch dating back to last week. Munising sits at 8-0 on the season, 3-0 after returning from the holiday break after defeating the Pickford Panthers, North Dickinson Nordics and the Rapid River Rockets.

“We’re having good practice, we’ve got good leadership and we have the talent, so it all ends up working out,” guard Trevor Nolan said.

The Mustangs have had little opposition so far this year, with only one team finishing within 10 points of Munising — a road game at Division 3 Ishpeming on Dec. 16. It gets worse for teams within Munising’s division, with Stephenson’s 21-point loss the next closest game for the Mustangs. Munising has only played three district opponents so far this year, a 7117 win at Superior Central, a 65-9 home victory against Engadine and Wednesday’s 38-point win against Rapid River. Munising won’t play their two smallest district opponents — Northern Lights League’s Big Bay de Noc and Kinross-Maplewood Baptist — during the regular season.

Kienitz said the key to keep winning is how the team prepares and takes each game: one at a time.

“Every game is 0-0 to us, regardless of the competition. We’re not playing down to anyone’s competition and we’re continuing our balanced scoring,” he said.

Munising will play Manistique on Monday, Jan. 9. The Emeralds are currently 3-3, but will have one game against Ishpeming Friday before they play the Mustangs. Tip off is set from approximately 7:00 p.m. after the JV game in Munising.

Munising 75 Pickford 34

Scheduled as a potential opponent in the MHSAA regional semifinals, Pickford proved to be no challenge for the Mustangs. The Panthers went down early at Munising, losing by 12 at the end of the first quarter. Munising kept pushing with three quarters over 20 points scored, but Pickford struggled to find the bottom of the net.

On Munising’s side, everything went well, including a half-court shot right before halftime. Multiple players for Munising hit three-point plays and the team had just nine combined fouls. Nebel led the home team in scoring with 19, while Nolan added 18 more.

The players said it was a good game after returning from the holiday break.

“I felt pretty good to get back out there and get our legs back under us again. We did a good job on both ends of the court and played our game the way we wanted to,” Nebel said.

Munising 78 North Dickinson 41

Munising skyrocketed to an early 11-point lead — 14 at the end of the first quarter — with both squads looking to three-point shots as a way to keep pace. North Dickinson (1-4) struggled to get runs going, either falling victim to a transitional steal or failing to rebound missed shots.

The Mustangs slowly increased their lead throughout the game, doubling up the Nordics at halftime 48-24, 65-32 at the end of the third and finally winning by 37 points.

Carson Kienitz led the way for Munising with 20 points. Nebel and Jack Dusseault added another 16 and 12 respectively.

Munising 77 Rapid River 39

The Mustangs struggled in the first quarter against a previously unseen challenge: a post player with size. Kodey Goldie was able to get a double-double of points and rebounds in the contest for Rapid River (3-2) and forced Munising to adapt in the half-court offense.

“We’re a little small with Riley Murk still out,” Coach Kienitz said. “(Rapid River) is a good foundational team and they have some size.”

Munising was able to stretch out the floor, creating longer rebounds and scoring in transition. Defeating the Rockets were important, because they are considered the only team to challenge Munising for the MHSAA Division title.

“It was a good test for us. We performed on both ends,” Coach Kienitz said. “We ran them out of the gym a little bit in the third quarter with some transition baskets.”

Nolan led the way for Munising with 23 points. Kienitz and Nebel added another 39 together.