Grazulis, Redmen shut down Houghton offense

HOUGHTON — Houghton Gremlins boys basketball coach Jared Lawson knew that he and his team had their work cut out for them with the Marquette Redmen in town. While the Gremlins stayed close throughout the night, Lawson pointed out on that the game came down to two major issues for the Orange and Black in a 57-42 loss at home.

“It came down to too many fast break transition points for them and Marius (Grazulis),” he said. “Without a doubt that was the difference.”

Grazulis is Marquette’s 6-foot-10 center who poured in 27 points for the Redmen in their 57-42 win over Houghton. He is set to play basketball for Grand Valley State next year.

After the opening tip, the Redmen shot out to a 6-0 lead. However Houghton’s guard George Butvalis kept the Gremlins within reach as he poured his team’s first five points. The Gremlins other leading scorer, Brad Sirard, also stepped up, firing off a three-pointer and pulling Houghton within three, 13-10 with 1:43 left on the clock in the first. However, the Gremlins turned the ball over twice and could not get back to defend two easy layups by the Redmen, who ended the quarter up 18-10.

The Redmen continued the momentum they built late in the first throughout the second and were spot on from the field, getting second- and third- chance points thanks to the 4-inch height advantage between Houghton’s Sirard (6-foot-6) and Grazulis.

Lawson gave Sirard an “A” for effort in his play against their big guy.

“I have to give all our guys credit. They fought hard,” said Lawson. “Brad did an exceptional job battling in the post. That was probably the difference in the game as you can only do so much against height.”

At half, the Redmen were up 35-21.

The third quarter was the Gremlins’ best as the outscored Marquette, 13-12, and came within 10 thanks to a Sirard three-pointer with 3:42 left. They toughened up their defense as well, keeping the Redmen, for the most part, out of the paint.

Since the Redmen are such a versatile team, there was little room for error and the Gremlins gave up one too many of them as the clock wound down.

“It is always tough coming up here to play,” said Marquette coach Brad Nelson. “We knew we had to contain Sirard and Butvalis and thought we did a pretty good job at that. Overall, I thought we put up a great defensive effort to win the game.”

With the loss, the Gremlins fell to 6-6 on the season.