Down to the wire: Gladstone Braves finish boys basketball comeback with overtime win at Westwood Patriots

Gladstone’s Jared Crow, right, draws his fifth foul as he runs into Westwood’s Zachary Niemi trying to knock the ball loose in overtime of their high school boys basketball game played at the Patriots’ gym on Monday. (Photo courtesy Daryl T. Jarvinen)

“We play like this against Gladstone, we’re going to be tough to beat and we’re going to give anybody we play a run for their money.” — Chad Hewitt, head coach, Westwood boys basketball

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ISHPEMING — It didn’t take on Jan. 8 for the Gladstone boys varsity basketball team to run away with a 62-35 victory over visiting Westwood.

In Monday night’s rematch at the Patriots’ gym, this one took extra time to decide a winner, with the Braves prevailing victorious again 57-53 in overtime.

Call it a comeback if you’d like. Despite the lead never being larger than eight points, the Braves last saw the lead at 2-0 before finally retaking the lead with 3:48 to go in the fourth quarter on a top-of-the-arc triple from senior guard Rudy Peterson to make it 49-47 Gladstone.

The Patriots immediately answered with a 2-point basket from senior forward Blake Hewitt to retie it. The teams traded buckets two more times until the Braves were able to hold for the final shot of regulation.

That final Braves’ shot from the corner was off the mark, and Westwood senior guard Nathan Beckman was able to quickly gain control and heave up a prayer from halfcourt, but that desperation shot also missed, sending the game to OT.

All Gladstone needed in extra time was four points and a steal from senior guard and Northern Michigan University-bound Reece Castor.

After Castor put his team up 55-53 with a putback shot, each team traded possessions, missed baskets and turnovers until the Patriots were set up for the last shot.

After an inbound pass off of a Westwood timeout with 16 seconds remaining, Patriots senior guard Zachary Niemi attempted to pass to senior teammate and forward Jacob Adriano, but the ball was stolen by Castor who made a dagger layup with the final seconds winding down.

Castor said the narrow comeback win was a credit to Gladstone’s strong defensive efforts late in the game.

“We just let our defense drive our offense,” he said. “We knew that in order to get out and be able to score, we had to get up on the break, get up on our guy defensively and really pressure the basketball.

“I think it kind of shows what we’re made of. In these close games like this, we’re able to pull them out.”

Gladstone, entering the night as the No. 3 team in Divisions 1-3 of the Upper Peninsula Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association poll, improved to 11-7.

“We’ve been talking about having these tough tests before the tournament and this was a good one for us,” Gladstone head coach Dane Quigley said. “I think Westwood had an excellent game plan in place to try and slow us down. I thought they executed their game plan really well for about 3 1/2 quarters of basketball.

“For us, we talked about this all year. It came down to half-court, man-to-man defense at the end of the game. We kind of had to dig in, get gritty and I thought we did a good job of that, especially in the overtime period.

“Four minutes and we didn’t give up a basket, so it’s that kind of half-court defense I like to see coming out at the end of games.”

Westwood fell to 11-8, but head coach Chad Hewitt was pleased with his team’s performance as the regular season winds down.

“I thought we definitely played them a little better than when we went down to Gladstone,” he said. “We didn’t really come out with any intensity or enthusiasm out of the Christmas break but I thought we did that (tonight). We showed them what type of team we can be.

“We play like this against Gladstone, we’re going to be tough to beat and we’re going to give anybody we play a run for their money.

“Gladstone is a good team. They’re long, athletic, they’ve got guys that can knock down shots and Reece is a(n NCAA) Division 2 basketball player for a reason. He’s good.”

The Patriots can now look ahead to Negaunee (12-7) on Wednesday, a good test to prepare for the district tournament that gets underway next week.

“Using Negaunee will be a great way to prepare,” he said. “I’d rather play these really good basketball teams to let us know where we’ve got to be going into districts. I’m looking forward to it.”

Westwood used a 16-point first quarter to go up four after eight minutes, and went up 28-23 at halftime.

The Braves wouldn’t go away, cutting the lead to 43-39 after three and outscoring the Patriots by four to get the game to overtime.

Castor led all scorers with 18 points while senior guard Carson Shea added 17. Sophomore forward Rane Castor had seven.

Westwood was led by junior guard Ty Alderton with a 14-point night while Hewitt added 11, Adriano 10 and Beckman nine.

The Patriots shot 23 of 51 from the field and 5 of 11 from the free-throw line, collecting 23 rebounds with Hewitt getting seven. Gladstone was 5 of 10 at the line and grabbed 35 rebounds with Reece Castor getting 11. Field goal shooting wasn’t available for Gladstone.

Westwood won the JV game 61-54.

Email Ryan Spitza at sports@miningjournal.net.