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Just falling short: Negaunee Miners boys basketball team forces overtime only to go scoreless in extra period and lose 62-52

Negaunee’s Gerald Johnson, left, shoots a 3-pointer over Gladstone’s Caden Downey on Tuesday in Gladstone. (Escanaba Daily Press photo by Todd Rose)

“We played hard and gave ourselves a chance.” — Dan Waterman, head coach, Negaunee boys basketball

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GLADSTONE — It was a nailbiter of a game Tuesday night for Gladstone as the Braves outlasted Negaunee in an overtime battle 62-52 in Gladstone.

“It feels great, a win is a win,” Braves head coach Mike Cretens said after his team improved to 2-1. “I tell the team that every day. We come into the locker room (and I tell them) ‘We got to go one 1-0 today. It doesn’t matter what happened in the past, 1-0 today.’ When you get down to March, 1-0 matters every single day.”

The game was a neck-and-neck battle throughout, with the Braves holding the slight edge for the majority of the game.

With eight seconds left in regulation, Negaunee’s Gerald Johnson nailed a 3-pointer to bring the Miners within one possession at 52-49. After that shot, the Miners intentionally fouled to stop the clock, sending Rane Castor of Gladstone to the line shooting a 1-and-1.

Castor missed and the Miners snagged the rebound.

With 1.8 seconds left, Negaunee had one chance to force OT.

Will Luke chucked the ball across the court to a wide-open Johnson who buried another 3 as the buzzer went off, the teams tied at 52.

“I got to give credit to my JV coach, Kevin Jacobson,” Miners head coach Dan Waterman said as his team slipped to 1-3. “He was like, ‘Just run Chicago from here!’ and we did. Will Luke made a heck of a pass, he kind of hooked it over there. And Gerald, to his credit, stepped up and made a huge shot to give us another chance.”

Once in overtime, however, the Braves held the Miners scoreless.

Cam Ballard put the lead in the hands of the Braves about 40 seconds into OT. With the Braves in the double bonus, Ballard went to the free-throw line twice and made all four of his attempts.

Hunter Potier, who also put up four points for Gladstone in OT, led the Braves in scoring with 24 points while adding 15 rebounds.

“Hunter Potier carried us today,” Cretens said. “That was outstanding, he is a force on the court.”

Ballard put up 16 for Gladstone and Castor had 12.

“That was a tough game,” Cretens said. “I have high respect for Dan Waterman. He is one of the best coaches in the (Upper Peninsula).”

The Miners had two players, Johnson (22 points) and Eli Luokkala (21), break the 20-point barrier. While Johnson was strong outside with six 3-pointers, Luokkala handled the scoring down low.

“Eli’s a big, strong, kid,” Waterman said. “He’s very skilled. He’s the focal point of our offense and you could see that he had their attention early and throughout the game…. He’s a force for us.”

Waterman was pleased with the strides his team has made.

“We played hard and gave ourselves a chance,” he said. “I thought we got better tonight and we’re going to continue to do that because it doesn’t get any easier.”

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