MARQUETTE - It was Menominee's bad fortune to play the Marquette Senior High School boys basketball team following the Redmen's first loss of the season.
Still stung by a home defeat to Sault Ste. Marie on Wednesday, MSHS rebounded in a big way Friday night, beating the Maroons 51-32 in a Great Northern Conference encounter.
The Big Five No. 1-ranked Marquette squad scored the game's first seven points, led 33-10 at the half and never looked back in improving to 7-1 overall and 3-0 in GNC play.
"We didn't play well Wednesday," MSHS head coach Brad Nelson said of his team's 59-52 loss. "I think the guys wanted to make a statement. They had a chip on their shoulder and wanted (the game)."
Six-foot-7 senior center A.J. Grazulis, behind 10 points in the first quarter, finished with a game-high 18 for the Redmen. Teammate Mark Pap, a 6-6 senior forward, finished with 15 points and a team-high eight rebounds.
"We wanted to show everyone we still have it (after the loss)," Grazulis said. "We tried to make up for the other night."
With no Menominee starter taller than 6-1, the Redmen used patience to get the ball inside to Grazulis and Pap.
"We're so small, our only chance was to press on top," Menominee head coach Pete Pericolosi said after his team fell to 4-6 overall and 1-2 in the GNC.
"We tried a zone (defense), then (Larry) Burnette hit a couple of 3's. Marquette had 30 points in the paint."
Grazulis said Marquette's inside offensive game was by design.
"(Menominee) didn't have much size, so the game plan was to go to our 'bigs', me and Pap."
Pap nailed a jumper, Brad Brow sank a triple and Grazulis scored inside to give the Redmen a 24-9 lead with 4:10 left in the second quarter en route to the 23-point advantage at intermission.
Grazulis notched 14 of his points in the first half and Pap 11. Menominee, in contrast, sank three triples for its only baskets of the first 20 minutes.
"Our defense was pretty solid," Nelson said. "I liked the way the kids rebounded by setting the tone early."
Pap then made an exclamation point by stealing the ball to start the third quarter and going coast-to-coast before dunking, igniting MSHS fans.
Marquette led 40-12 early in the third stanza, but the Maroons pulled to within 46-25 entering the final quarter with five late points by Jaden Kleinke. He and teammate Jared Rivard led Menominee with eight points each.
Nelson sat four of his starters - including Pap and Grazulis - for the entire fourth quarter. When Pericolosi began emptying his bench, as well, the result was a 7-5 Menominee advantage the rest of the game.
Marquette outrebounded the Maroons 27-12 and helped force the visitors into 16 turnovers.
MSHS won the JV game, 50-32.
Craig Remsburg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 251. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.