SIGNATURE WIN: Norse Take Down Henry Ford

Click the thumbnails to see photos and videos from the game, and to hear post-game comments from Ryan Sweeney and Joe Ofori. Also click to hear Connor Smale's halftime interview.

FLINT, Mich.---
The Bay College Norse men's basketball team advanced to the NJCAA Great Lakes “C” championship game on Friday, beating the Henry Ford College Hawks, 82-67, at the Ballenger Fieldhouse in Flint.


The Norse built a 23-point lead late in the first half, and withstood a shooting dry spell for the better part of the second half that saw the Hawks close to within nine points.


Bay, however, made its free throws down the stretch to earn a signature victory against a Henry Ford program that routinely plays in the national tournament.


This time, though, the Norse were in control the whole way, taking a quick nine point lead. And then Bay got big momentum as Joe Ofori had two consecutive slam dunks, the first being a highlight reel slam that he alley-ooped to himself for the two-hander.


“He (the defender) let me get to the middle,” Ofori said. “Then I pump-faked, and he fell for my pump-fake, which I didn't think he would. And then, I had a wide-open lane in the paint, and they had no help-side. So, I'm like, it's very risky, because if I do this and I miss, I'm gonna get pulled. But, I had to do it, just because it was open.”


He didn't miss. And then on the next possession, Ofori took the ball in the back court and drove all the way up the middle for another slam dunk. Bay was ahead, 23-10.


“I feel like that (first dunk) created a lot of momentum, and that's how I got the second dunk,” Ofori said. “The momentum just kept building up after that, and I'm glad that I got to be a little part of that spurt. Overall, we just took the opportunity to jump on them and just keep pounding away.”


Sophomore Bari Mawo had an incredible spurt of his own, scoring ten points, as the Norse pulled into a 45-23 lead. A Kairee Gadson triple right before halftime gave Bay its biggest lead of the game at 48-25. The Norse led at halftime, 50-30.


But then came the second half, when shots stopped falling and the Hawks made a run. Daniel Rosenber scored 14 points in the second half, nailing a couple of triples in the process. Deom Hayes put in eight points of his own, and Shanien Carter had a “dunk-and-one” basket. Henry Ford climbed to within 61-52 with still ten minutes to play.


The Norse, however, did not fold, especially thanks to their guard play. Even without the injured Nic Williams, the Norse handled the Hawk press and trap with Ryan Sweeney, Ezra Brown, and Gadson all handling the ball well.


“They have some really good guards that are gonna go (NCAA) D-1, D-2, but you know, I've been there, too,” Sweeney said. “I've seen good defenses, and I've seen good players. Nothing really scares me. I know Kairee wasn't scared. We work at it every day against each other. We worked hard. That was a hard-worked game. In a game like that, that team just wanted to run, shoot, get fast breaks. We kind of had to slow it down a little bit and it worked in our favor. I was gassed a little bit, but we're gassed every day in practice. We're used to it.”


Bay was able to salt the game away at the free throw line, making 25-of-37 shots. Henry Ford shot just 15 free throws (making eleven) for a plus-14 for the Norse.


Mawo had an outstanding all-around stat line. Mawo had 21 points on 7-of-14 shooting from the floor. He was 6-of-10 from the line. He had a game-high 15 rebounds for a double-double. He had two assists and two steals.


Gadson nailed three triples and finished with 14 points. Genesis Kemp had a double-double of 14 points and eleven rebounds. Sweeney had eleven points and three assists. And Ofori had 19 points and six rebounds as all five Norse starters scored in double figures.


“It's playoff time now, and I came out with the mindset of being aggressive,” Ofori said. “We just can't get too comfortable, and I can't get too comfortable. We can celebrate this win, but we have to get back on it on Sunday, because we don't want Sunday to be the last time we put on this jersey for the season. We have to keep being focused.”


Henry Ford (18-10) was led by Rosenber's 16 points off the bench. Chansey Williams had a triple-double of 12 points, eleven rebounds, and eleven assists while playing all 40 minutes. No other Hawks player scored in double figures.


“This was a really good team, and we showed that we are one of the best teams in the country tonight,” Sweeney said. “I know that Henry Ford beat Bay last year in the state championship (105-85), so this was a 'get-back' game.”


In the second semifinal game, the Hocking (Ohio) Hawks dominated the Glen Oaks Vikings, 83-60. So the Norse (27-4) will face Hocking (25-2) in the regional championship game Sunday afternoon. Tip-off is set for 1:30, and the game will be broadcast live on Maverick 106.3 FM and through the audio link at

LISTEN: Joe Ofouri post-game coimments
LISTEN: Ryan Sweeney post-game comments
LISTEN: Connor Smale player spotlight interview