Valentine’s Day massacre on the basketball court: Marquette boys score early, often to rout Miners 67-36

Negaunee’s Drew Lindberg gets tripped up as Marquette’s Bryce Brazeau steps on his foot during a scrum for a loose ball that was previously knocked away by Lindberg in the first quarter of their high school boys basketball game played at Lakeview Memorial Gymnasium in Negaunee on Thursday. (Photo courtesy Daryl T. Jarvinen)

“He’s a personal press breaker for us. If teams press us, he’s able to just dribble through it.” — Brad Nelson, Marquette head coach, on one of the roles of Redman junior Luke Ogea

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NEGAUNEE — There was no love lost between the Marquette and Negaunee boys varsity basketball teams in their Valentine’s Day showdown at Lakeview Memorial Gymnasium in Negaunee on Thursday night.

This was expected to be a competitive Upper Peninsula top-five showdown between the nearby rivals. But it turned into a Valentine’s Day massacre in favor of the No. 2 Redmen, who jumped out to an early 13-0 lead and never looked back, topping the No. 4 Miners 67-36.

MSHS improved to 14-3, completing a season sweep of Negaunee after also taking the first contest 55-47 on Dec. 21. It’s also the Redmen’s sixth consecutive win over the Miners, a streak that dates to January 2017.

Clearly a different game from their first meeting, Marquette head coach Brad Nelson said Thursday’s lopsided score was due to his defense covering one of Negaunee’s sharpshooters, junior guard Jakson Sager.

“I thought the biggest difference tonight is that we were able to keep Jakson in front of us,” he said. “I thought (MSHS senior guard) Raffy (Millado) did an outstanding job of containing him. We limited Jason (Waterman), we limited Drew (Lindberg) the first time and we did the same (tonight). The biggest difference was not allowing Jakson to gut our defense.”

One problem the Miners had to face was Marquette junior forward Luke Ogea, who finished with six field goals for a 12-point night, earning some easy drives to the basket and layups early.

“He adds a different dynamic,” Nelson said. “His court vision and being able to get the ball up the court, he’s a personal press breaker for us. If teams press us, he’s able to just dribble through it. He just adds another body.

“This was a team effort. It wasn’t just a couple of guys, it was everybody that contributed and it was an outstanding performance.”

Ogea kept things simple in saying that hard work pays off.

“(Coach) Nelson told us that harder work leads to easier wins,” he said. “There’s a lot of truth to that because if you’re working a lot harder out there, stuff is going to come easier and a lot more natural.

“I feel like these past few games we’ve had, we’ve come out with the same energy and that’s what’s allowed us to come out and be able to perform at the high level that we are.”

The Miners fell to 11-7 after being unable to recover from the rocky start.

“They (Marquette) were two steps quicker than us physically and four steps ahead of us mentally,” Negaunee head coach Dan Waterman said. “Tip your cap to them. They’re a good team and they came out and played like it. They jumped on us early and never let us up off the mat. We’ll just regroup, refocus and try to get better for next week.”

Waterman agreed that Ogea was a new problem from the last time they faced MSHS.

“The first time we played them it was (Ethan) Martysz hitting a bunch of 3s that kind of doomed us. (Tonight) we decided we want to try something different. It didn’t matter what we tried, though, because we didn’t have the necessary energy to really make anything work.

“Luke Ogea is a great player, a really good compliment to all of their other players and it just makes them that much better.”

Waterman is also confident that his team will be perfectly fine.

“We’re 11-7 and six of those loses are to teams that are ranked,” he said. “Four of those losses are to teams ranked directly in front of us and I’m proud of the way our season has gone so far. Obviously, there’s work still to do, and like I said, our focus has to be on just getting better next week and getting back on a roll going into the district tournament.”

After Marquette took its early 13-point lead, the Miners got on the board with 2:40 left in the first quarter on a jumper from Sager, while Lindberg hit a jumper of his own after that and Jason Waterman notched a triple to end the quarter and pull the Miners within 15-7.

MSHS poured things on in the second, limiting the Miners offense to four points for a 31-11 halftime lead.

Negaunee was unable to climb back into it as the Redmen used a 36-point second half to run away.

Marquette senior center Marius Grazulis led all scorers with 24 points while grabbing eight rebounds. Millado had 12 points for the Redmen.

Negaunee was led by Jason Waterman with 13 points while junior guard Chas Kumpula had seven and Sager six.

Marquette hosts Gaylord (8-8) at 4 p.m. Saturday. Negaunee visits West Iron County (8-6) on Monday.

Email Ryan Spitza at sports@miningjournal.net.