BY MIKE ECKERT
TRAVERSE CITY — Ogemaw Heights and Traverse City Central suffered tough Big North Conference losses Tuesday.
But neither team was rattled when Friday's game suddenly got tight at the end of the fourth quarter.
In the end, the host Trojans held on for a 62-59 win over the Falcons, thanks to a couple of late free throws from Taylor Cook
"It's a good win," Trojans coach Jeff Turner said. "I give Ogemaw a lot of credit. They were coming off a tough loss at home to Cadillac that was hard fought and they probably had them beat. So we knew we'd have to play pretty good. We feel pretty good to walk out of here with a win. It's only our fourth win of the season, but it's a good start."
The Trojans (4-11) lost in overtime to visiting Gaylord on Tuesday. There wasn't any hangover on Friday, as they jumped out to a 21-10 lead in the first quarter.
"It definitely feels good," TC Central senior Ethan Pilarski said of the win. "We were working on it in practice, just maintaining good defense. We wanted to get a good lead right off the start. So we pushed the ball and our teammates hit us in stride."
Pilarski finished with a game-high 20 points, including 14 in the first half.
"Ethan always does a great job," Turner said. "He's a third-year varsity player and he puts himself in great positions. One of the biggest responsibilities on our team is our in-bounder, and he does it every time. He's going to be missed when he graduates, because he's a great role model for our kids of how to work hard."
After a 37-19 TCC lead at the half, Ogemaw Heights crawled back. It was 50-37 going into the fourth quarter, but then the Falcons outscored the Trojans 22-12 to make it a game.
Nick Drumm's 3-pointer with 15 seconds left cut the lead to 60-57, but Cook came back with a pair of free throws to lock up the win.
"After a tough loss on Tuesday, we talked about what we had to do to put ourselves in a position to be competitive and win these close games," Turner said. "I thought we did that. Even though it was ugly at the end, we're fighting through that. We're working hard in practice and it's carrying over to games."
Tanner Kenney had eight points and 10 rebounds for the Trojans while Cook had eight points and seven boards. Max Knoblock was a big spark for Central off the bench with seven points, six rebounds, a block and an assist.
"He's steadily progressed all season," Turner said. "He doesn't try to do too much. He puts himself in a position and tries to be a spark out there. He did some really good things for us. That's a kid plugging away, doing what he's supposed to be doing, and tonight he got a chance to shine a little bit. It wasn't a surprise to me, because he does that kind of work every day in practice."
For Ogemaw Heights, Dillon Zettel had 16 points, Cameron Zettel had 14 points and Tyler Palm had 10 points and 11 rebounds.
TC Central won the JV game 60-27 as Joe Schepperly had 12 points for the Trojans (8-7) and Danny Brott added 10 points.
The Trojans took the freshman contest 45-19 behind 10 points each from Mason Houston and Reagan Cotton.