Westwood boys basketball team comes out ‘flat’ at Gladstone

Westwood’s Mason Mariuzza, left, looks to pass around Gladstone’s Reece Castor on Tuesday at the Braves' gym. (Escanaba Daily Press photo by Austin Hemmingson)

GLADSTONE — After a rough beginning to the season, the Gladstone boys’ basketball team has appeared to figure something out.

The Braves dominated for the second game in a row to start the new year, blowing out Westwood 62-35 in a Mid-Peninsula Conference game here Tuesday.

While Reece Castor is known as the main cog for the Braves, lately the supporting cast has also stepped up its game. On Tuesday, Noah Ballard scored 17 points and Jared Crow had 11 — to go along with 17 from Castor.

“We had four guys in double figures tonight,” Braves coach Dane Quigley said. “Our supporting cast is really starting to find their rhythm.”

Slow starts haunted the Braves (4-5) early in the season, but that wasn’t an issue against Westwood. Gladstone jumped out to a 15-10 lead after the first quarter and led 31-19 at the half.

After the Patriots (6-3) scored to start the second half, the Braves went on a 12-4 run to stretch the lead to 43-25 and they never looked back.

“Minus Ty Alderton, we played really flat,” Patriots’ coach Chad Hewitt said. “You can overcome one or two kids playing flat, but not the whole team. It’s like the whole team stayed on the bus.

“We can’t win like that. We’re not the most talented or athletic team so we have to out-work people and do the little things right. We were playing great ball before the (holiday) break, so I didn’t see this one coming from my team — they threw me a curve ball.”

“We talked about getting off to faster starts,” Quigley said. “We went back and looked and realized we had only won two quarters in the first half in our first seven games. We knew we had to start faster.

“We also went back and looked at last year’s film to see what was working for us. We realized that we needed to go more up-tempo and get Reece out in transition.”

The Braves were the more intense team from the beginning, diving on the floor for loose balls and finding ways to score in transition. They continued their domination throughout, outscoring the Patriots in all four quarters.

“These last two games we have put together our two best played games,” Quigley said. “I think the biggest factor for us has been our effort on defense. We went back to the fundamentals.”

The Braves ran a half-court trap that proved to effective against Westwood’s guards.

Gladstone was able to put in bench players in the late going, such as Dylan Krause, who tripled from the right wing for his only points to give the Braves a 29-point lead with 53 seconds remaining — their biggest of the night.

Alderton led the Patriots with 14 points.

Gladstone also won the JV game 60-47 and freshmen game 60-18.

Westwood visits Ishpeming Friday.