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Marquette Redmen survive heavyweight battle with Traverse City Central in overtime

Marquette‘s Marius Grazulis lines up a free throw attempt during the Redmen’s game against Traverse City Central in the MHSAA Division 1 district tournament played in Marquette on Monday. (Journal photo by Trinity Carey)

MARQUETTE — Call it a battle of the heavyweights.

That’s because Traverse City Central senior Tobin Schwannecke and Marquette Senior High School senior Marius Grazulis duked it out in a combined 73-point performance.

Schwannecke dropped 42 of those while Grazulis notched 31, but it was the Redmen boys basketball team coming out on top 74-65 in an overtime thriller during the opening round of the MHSAA Division 1 district tournament at the Barb Crill Gymnasium on Monday night.

Marquette’s big man, standing at 6-foot-10, recorded most of his points at the free-throw line as his five field goals and 19 free throws helped his team to victory.

Schwannecke was on fire from beyond the arc, with 9 of his 15 field goals coming from deep, including five triples in a row in the third quarter to will his team back into the mix.

After Marquette built a 29-17 lead at halftime, Schwannecke came alive in the third, giving the Trojans their first lead since 7-6 with a layup and a foul shot to make it 39-38.

The Redmen had a layup of their own coming from junior forward Drew Wyble to put MSHS back on top 40-39 after three quarters.

The teams were locked in a 59-59 stalemate late in regulation. With TCC holding for the last shot with five seconds to go, Schwannecke inbounded the ball and quickly got a return pass and went for the game-winning layup. The shot didn’t fall, forcing overtime.

Central won the opening tip of the extra four-minute frame, but Schwannecke quickly threw the ball away to MSHS senior guard Bryce Brazeau, who was fouled on the ensuing break.

With Marquette in the double bonus, Brazeau made both free throws and the Redmen never looked back.

Schwannecke fouled out with his final two whistles in OT as Marquette outscored the Trojans 15-6 in the extra period.

Marquette head coach Brad Nelson said Schwannecke was hard to contain even as his performance was one to remember.

“If you would’ve told me he was going to have 42 points and we win, there’s no way I would’ve taken that bet ever,” Nelson said. “He was lights out. It seemed every shot he took was contested. We did what we wanted and you need to give him a lot of credit. Making those 3s kept them in the game.”

Nelson added that going up by 12 points at halftime was important after a sluggish start when the Redmen were held scoreless for the game’s first five minutes.

“Earlier in the game, we were a little bit tight,” the MSHS coach said. “I could tell at the free throw line, we were thinking about things too much. It took about a quarter to get into the flow of the game and going up 12 at halftime.

“We knew they were going to come out and punch us back and they did. It was just a great overall effort by all of my guys.”

TCC head coach Travis Schuba said he’s proud of the performance by his senior standout.

“That was by far one of the most impressive performances I’ve seen from an athlete,” he said. “To end with 42 points in a tough game like that where (Marquette) is doubling him and stuff, we’re pretty sure he has something torn in his shoulder which is why he has a brace on.

“That happened late in our game Friday at Alpena. So he hasn’t practiced or really shot since. For him to come out and shoot the best he’s ever shot, I think that’s a testament to his heart and how much of a competitor he is.”

Despite Schwannecke’s performance, the Trojans were far outnumbered at the charity stripe. Marquette had 42 free throw attempts to Central’s seven.

“Unfortunately we lost the free throw battle tonight,” Schuba said. “It’s tough to win any game when the disparity of free throws is that high.

“We had chances and the guys fought hard. We had a great year and we knocked one of the items off of our list by winning the (Big North) conference. But we felt like we had one slip through our hands here.”

Traverse City Central bows out with a record of 11-9.

The Trojans started off with a 4-0 lead during the Redmen’s early scoring drought that ended when Grazulis hit a top-of-the-arc triple with 3:01 left in the first.

Marquette had three more 3-pointers after that, two coming from senior guard Brendan Kaski and one from junior forward Luke Ogea to give the Redmen a 12-11 lead after one quarter.

Once the Trojans went up 53-48 late in the fourth, a triple from Brazeau, a pair of free throws and a 2-pointer from Grazulis tied things back up at 55-55.

Central responded with a layup from sophomore Carson Briggs before another bucket from Grazulis made it 57-57.

Ogea hit two more free throws with 1:38 left, but a Schwannecke jumper again tied things at 59, which eventually got the game to overtime after the Schwannecke miss at the buzzer.

Marquette went 33 of 42 at the free throw line and 16 of 40 from the field. Traverse City Central hit 25 field goals, going just 5 of 7 from the line.

Briggs and junior Henry Goldkuhle each added eight points for the Trojans. Grazulis led Marquette in rebounds with 11 while Ogea finished with 18 points and Brazeau 12.

The Redmen (17-3) continue district tournament play at 6 p.m. Wednesday, hosting Alpena (16-4) back at MSHS.

Email Ryan Spitza at sports@miningjournal.net.

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