MARQUETTE - Timely 3-point baskets and clutch free throws propelled the Marquette Senior High School boys basketball team to a 59-43 non-conference victory over the visiting Negaunee Miners Thursday night.
"We knew coming in we were in for a battle," MSHS head coach Brad Nelson said. "It's basically the same team we played last year. We have the same team we had when we played them, so we knew it was going to be an absolute dog fight."
For the second game in a row, senior forward Mark Pap had to sit due to early foul trouble and the Redmen (2-0) got a boost from senior center A.J. Grazulis.
Marquette’s Larry Burnette crosses over dribbles as Negaunee’s Tanner Uren tries to keep up during the fourth quarter at Marquette Senior High School on Thursday. (Journal photo by Matt Keiser)
Grazulis turned in a 21-point, 11-rebound effort on Tuesday in Gladstone. Against the Miners, he posted another double-double with 15 points and 12 boards.
"I thought there would be a little bit more help down on A.J., but he was able to get position and get some easy buckets," Nelson said.
"To have him have two games like he did, second double-double in a row, teams are going to be forced to pay attention to both (Grazulis and Pap), which frees up our perimeter
In the second half, the perimeter players got the space they needed as the Marquette guards helped push the game to double digits. Junior guards Andrew Nyquist and Larry Burnette finished with 18 and 15 points, respectively.
"(At) halftime, we came in and knew (the Miners) weren't going to stop pushing. They're a tough team," Nyquist said. "We came out in the second half and opened with a big 3 and that kept us going."
Marquette also got a second half spark from junior Brad Brow, who scored all nine of his points in the third quarter, including a four-point play that gave the Redmen their first double digit lead, 33-23, with 4:07 left. Early foul trouble on both Pap and Grazulis forced Nelson to rely on the bench for the majority of the second quarter.
"When we got into foul trouble, in the back of my mind, I was worried because Negaunee is capable of putting up points in a hurry," Nelson said.
"My guys who came off the bench, I asked them to. They did that and that's what kept us in the game."
Marquette held a 24-19 edge going into the half.
Negaunee head coach Mike O'Donnell said his team didn't take advantage of the MSHS foul trouble.
"You've got to tip your hat to Marquette," O'Donnell said. "To be in that situation, when they got their two best players on the bench, they were still able to maintain the lead. The other kids who came in filled in very nicely.
"Looking back at it, we probably should have attacked the rim a little bit more than we did."
The Miners struggled shooting the ball, going 3-for-20 from 3-point range and 14-for-57 overall.
O'Donnell said his team had the right intensity, but couldn't hit the shots it needed.
"The effort was there. We kept flying around and hanging around, and the guys worked hard," O'Donnell said. "I can't ask for anything more on that end of it.
"But again, when we don't knock down shots, it's going to be a long night. We didn't do that and Marquette did. They really executed nicely, and when they got their looks, they were able to take advantage of it."
The Miners (3-1) were led by junior guard Tyler Jandron, who poured in 17 points. Senior forward Tanner Uren added nine points.
Marquette out rebounded Negaunee, 39-29, as Pap hauled in 11 boards in limited minutes.