By Greg Gielczyk
MANISTEE — Whether it was the “off” day for a basketball game, or the long bus ride, but for whatever reason the North Muskegon boys basketball team couldn’t get its offense moving Wednesday night against Manistee.
The Norsemen permitted the Chippewas to hang with them throughout the first half, and clung to just a three-point lead after the first 16 minutes.
But the Norsemen exploded out of the gate in the third quarter, blasting the Chippewas with a 23-7 blitz and pulled away for a big 56-40 non-conference win Wednesday night on the road.
What adjustments did the Norsemen discuss during the 10-minute break at the half?
“The only thing we talked about is maybe letting our offense happen a little bit more,” Norsemen head coach Chuck Rypstra said after the game. “I was calling a lot of plays to try to get a shot, instead of just working it around to get a shot, and that seemed to help a little bit.
“We turned up our pressure a little bit, too, (and) got them to turn the ball over a little bit for a stretch there. But, they battled us hard. They are real physical. They bang you around a lot. We had to get used to that.”
Brandon Rypstra raced down the court on the Norsemen’s first possession and rattled in a 3-pointer for the first pints of the contest.
It helped the Norsemen to a 7-2 lead in the game’s early moments, but the Chippewas wouldn’t go away easily. Twice they rallied to narrow the gap to one, and the Norsemen led by that margin, 11-10 at the buzzer courtesy of two free throws by Bo Neadeau.
Manistee then leaped into the lead, 14-11 at the onset of the second quarter and still led by three, 17-14 later in the period. Jason Bogue sank two free throws at the close of the half to send the Norsemen into the locker room with a 20-17 edge.
Troy McManus made a medium range shot and James Young drained two free throws for a 4-0 run that extended the Norsemen’s lead to eight, 25-17. The Norsemen went into the fourth quarter up by 19 points, 43-24.
“We just made a few more shots the second half, got after it a little bit harder, and I think that was the difference,” coach Rypstra said. “(McManus) kind of got it going.
“He finds some creases, got good quickness, good finish (and) makes a few three’s, too.”
McManus scored 16 points to lead the Norsemen, and all scorers in the game. Young finished with seven, while Rypstra and Neadeau added six apiece.
The Norsemen improved their record to 8-4 overall. North Muskegon’s next game is at home Tuesday, Feb. 1 against Shelby in the West Michigan Conference.