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Gladstone Braves fend off Gwinn boys’ surge to win

Gwinn’s Mastin Love, left, drives around Gladstone’s Caden Alworden Friday at Gladstone. (Escanaba Daily Press photo by Justin St. Ours)

GLADSTONE — The Gladstone boys basketball team pulled ahead and held on against a Gwinn surge here Friday to win 75-56 in a Mid-Peninsula Conference game.

The Braves finished the last two minutes of the first quarter on a 9-3 run to pull even at 17-17 going into the second.

Despite a triple from Gwinn’s Nick Lightford less than 30 seconds in, Gladstone (3-3, 3-1 M-PC) found its groove and went on another 9-3 run for the first three minutes of the second to pull ahead 26-20.

“We got a little undisciplined and we quit rebounding,” Gwinn coach Jim Finkbeiner said. “They were getting second-chance points, and we were starting to defend by fouling. We were trying to jump and block things, and they were calling fouls, which they should’ve been.

“When you jump, you’re probably going to put yourself in a bad spot. That’s how they got the lead in that second quarter — we didn’t defend the way we did in the first quarter.”

The Modeltowners (1-5, 1-4 M-PC) scored four points in the next minute but hit a drought until less than two minutes were left to trail 32-25. They were able to score four more before the half, but a strong finish from Gladstone’s Noah and Cam Ballard pushed the Braves ahead 39-29 at the half.

“I think the biggest change was that we came out a little flat in the first quarter,” Braves coach Dane Quigley said. “In the second quarter, we started picking up our intensity a bit. I think that’s the biggest thing. I think offensively, we started getting into a rhythm, and I think that was the biggest momentum change in the game for us — getting in a flow and tempo for the rest of the game.”

It wasn’t always pretty in the second half, but the Braves were able to hang on for the win.

“(The streakiness) has kind of been the story for us all year long,” Quigley said. “We’ve had a really hard time closing games. We seem to get some leads, but we can’t really finish it. We can’t get that 20-point lead on a team, and we tried hard to finish the game out. We have to figure this out and put teams away when we have them down. I think that will come back to bite us if we let these teams hang around.”

The Modeltowners surged with five minutes left in the third quarter as they trailed 43-33. Over the next minute and a half, Lightford scored four points and Mastin Love sank a triple to bring them within three.

Cam Ballard widened the gap shortly after with a layup and a shot from the charity stripe, but Gwinn answered with a triple from James Harnick just 10 seconds later.

With Gwinn trailing by just two, the Braves went on another run in the last two minutes of the quarter to increase their advantage to 56-50.

Both teams had difficulty offensively in the fourth, but Gwinn didn’t score until the final four minutes. By the time Tristan Jancsi went 1 for 2 from the line, the Modeltowners were trailing by 15, which proved to be too much to overcome.

“Gwinn fought hard, and I give credit to them,” Quigley said. “It’s a learning experience for us, so I’m glad we got the win today.”

The Braves were led by Cam Ballard with 25 points, while Castor added 16.

Harnick led the Modeltowners with 23 points, while Lightford notched 13. Reid Hill finished with 11.

“(Gladstone) threw a lot of different things at us (in terms of defense),” Finkbeiner said. “I was real pleased that we didn’t have too many turnovers, but they came in bunches. We have a little lapse where we get undisciplined, we turn the ball over and that’s when you lose games.”

Gladstone, which won the JV game, travels to Westwood Tuesday. Gwinn hosts Houghton Wednesday.

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