SAULT STE. MARIE - Not only are the Marquette Redmen headed to the holiday break with an unbeaten record, they have also staked an early claim as the Upper Peninsula's best boys basketball team.
Marquette junior center Vejas Grazulis had a breakout performance, scoring a career-best 19 points to lead four players in double figures as the Redmen downed Sault Ste. Marie 66-56 on Saturday afternoon.
Teammate Bradley Brow scored 18 points, while Larry Burnette and Connor Brazeau added 10 points each for the Redmen (3-0).
Marquette’s Larry Burnette, right, tries to dribble around Sault Ste. Marie defenders Jeff Monck (44) and Ray’nell Anderson after getting a pick from teammate Vejas Grazulis during Saturday’s high school boys basketball game played in Sault Ste. Marie. (Sault Evening News photo by Rob Roos)
MSHS built a 10-point edge in the first quarter and kept that margin most of the rest of the way. Marquette led 37-32 at halftime and was up by as many as 15 points in the fourth quarter.
The Redmen were coming off a 51-40 win over Negaunee on Thursday night.
"We've had a tough week with three games," Marquette coach Brad Nelson said. "I was worried that we would have bus legs after the three-hour drive, and we were sluggish at times. But I was pretty happy with the way our team responded in the second half to pull out a good win on the road."
Grazulis, at 6-foot-8, delivered a strong post game, shooting over multiple Sault defenders.
"This was his breakout game," Nelson said. "He wasn't as confident and we only had him in about 15 minutes against Negaunee. Today he was going strong to the basket and he was more physical."
Junior center Terrance Fuller scored 17 points and grabbed eight rebounds for the Blue Devils. Jordan Houghton scored 13 points and Matt Eilola had 11 points for the Sault.
Sault Ste. Marie (1-2) suffered its second straight 10-point loss. The Blue Devils fell 58-48 against St. Ignace on Thursday.
"Our effort was much better today," Soo coach Bill Schomberg said. "Our defense was pretty good, but they killed us on the boards. We worked hard to defend and then we always seemed to give up that big rebound, and that kept us from making a good run."