By Greg Gielczyk
CHARLEVOIX — They don’t come any closer.
Grayling stayed in the Lake Michigan Conference boys basketball title chase with a thrilling, 72-71 victory over Charlevoix on Friday, Feb. 3 on a five-foot shot at the buzzer in overtime by Spencer White.
It took three consecutive free throws by Christian Artress for the Vikings to climb into a 64-64 tie at the end of regulation and force the extra session. The victory improved Grayling’s record to 10-3 overall and 6-2 in the conference, keeping them a half-game behind first place Boyne City.
Troy Summers led the Vikings in scoring with 29 points, White wound up with 24 and Justin Nicholas finished with 10 in a balanced scoring attack. Charlevoix’s leaders were Kevin Pearl with 27 and Colin Smith with 22.
Summers snagged 12 rebounds to lead the Vikings, becoming the all-time Grayling career rebounding leader with 686 to eclipse the old career mark of 681 set by Gerry St. Germain in 1969. Summers also had three blocked shots. Trey Moffit distributed three assists and added two steals to tie Summers for the team high in that category.
It was the Vikings’ fourth consecutive win, and set up a showdown with league leading Boyne City at Grayling on Tuesday, Feb. 7. The Ramblers were currently 7-1 in the league and 9-3 overall.
“First of all, give Charlevoix a tone of credit,” Grayling coach Rich Moffit said. “They played very well and were outstanding for the arc (13 of 22). I really loved our character and heart in this game.
“We had a lot of adversity in this game and our guys continued to fight and compete when the outlook was not very good. We were down by 12 entering the fourth and we scored the first nine points of the quarter. Our guys continued to work hard and created opportunities to win down the stretch.”
Grayling trailed, 15-14 at the end of the first quarter and was outscored, 20-17 in the second for a 35-31 halftime deficit. Things didn’t improve for the Vikings in the third quarter, either, when they were outscored again, 15-7 and went into the fourth quarter in a 50-38 hole.
But the Vikings rallied to outscore Charlevoix, 26-14 in the fourth period and then had an 8-7 edge in overtime. Artress nailed all three of his foul shots after being fouled taking a 3-point attempt late in the game.
Grayling defeated Ogemaw Heights, 73-44 on Jan. 30 and Houghton Lake, 61-27 on Jan. 31. Both games were at Grayling. Summer had 32 points against Ogemaw Heights, followed by Nicholas with 13 and White with 12. White led the Vikings against Houghton Lake with 20 points, followed by Summers with 12 and Nicholas scored 10.
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