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North Central sets consecutive victory record; Johnston tied Greene for career wins

Basketball   | Tom Markowski

State Champs! Sports Network

Roy Johnston and Adam Mercier are nearly two generations apart yet on Friday they shared a moment of history.

Johnston is in his 47th season as a head coach, the last 43 at Beaverton, and Mercier is in his 11th season at Powers North Central. Johnston tied legendary River Rouge coach Lofton Greene for career coaching victories at 728 as his Beavers defeated Houghton Lake, 47-24. Johnston can pass Greene on Wednesday when Beaverton plays Jack Pine Conference rival Farwell.

Some would argue that Greene still holds the record by himself with 739 but 11 of his victories came while coaching in Kentucky, his home state.

Mercier’s North Central team, which has dominated Class D boys basketball the past two seasons, set the state record for consecutive victories by defeating Mercier's alma mater, Bark River-Harris, 76-29. North Central’s streak is at 66. Chassell, another Upper Peninsula school, held the record of 65 that it set in 1956-58. Chassell won three consecutive Class D titles during this period. North Central is going for its third straight.

North Central (11-0) has been ranked No. 1 all season. Beaverton is 10-1 and unranked in Class C.

North Central has five seniors in its starting lineup led by Jason Whitens, a 6-4½, 210-pound forward who often will take over at the point guard spot. The best athlete in the U.P., Whitens is being recruited by Division II schools for football and basketball. He led North Central to the last two 8-player football titles.

Johnston, 74, is coaching his third grandson. Carter Johnston is a 6-2 senior who is averaging 26 points.

What would be the topper for both coaches and their programs is a long tournament run come March.