Ishpeming boys fall at home to Gladstone

ISHPEMING — For its home opener on Dec. 5, Gladstone boys’ basketball held a 12-point third quarter advantage over Ishpeming before losing 55-50.

The two teams collided again on Tuesday, this time on the Hematites home floor. The Braves led by 12 points entering the third quarter. They also won by 12 points, defeating Ishpeming 43-31.

“The guys played hard. It’s a hostile environment to come in here,” Braves coach Jake Kiesby said. “Ishpeming is a good team. They’re scrappy, their kids play hard. We knew it was going to be that kind of game and environment.”

The Braves exploded early. With baskets from seniors Nick Matthews, Drake Johnson and Luke Bracket, the purple and white opened a 9-2 lead. The Hematites bounced back with a 3-pointer from senior Parker Gauthier and a layup from Hunter Smith the Braves’ lead was shaved to 9-7.

With the lead pushed back to 12-7 and one second left on the game clock, Gladstone was forced to in-bound the ball facing its own bench. If the Braves had any hopes of adding to the scoreboard before the end of the quarter, it would require a pass similar to that of Aaron Rodgers finding Jeff Janis in the 2016 NFL Divisional Round against the Arizona Cardinals.

The Braves found that connection.

It was Matthews playing the role of Rodgers, chucking the ball to the other end of the court to Johnson, playing the role of Janis. Johnson caught the ball, immediately rolled to the inside, got a layup off and through the net milliseconds before the buzzer sounded to give the Braves a 14-7 lead after the first frame.

The Hematities once again had a response, opening the second stanza on a 9-2 run with 3-pointers from Smithsophomre Grady Gauthier and senior Hayden Hares to tie the game at 16.

Then Braves’ senior Kaden Gibbs entered the chat.

Gibbs knocked down a 3-pointer to open a 19-16 lead and later knocked down a pair of free throws to make it 21-16.

Johnson connected with a layup, sophomore Owen Gereau connected from 3-point land and senior Thomas Tackman knocked down his second layup of the half.

The Braves led 28-16 at the break off the 12-0 run.

“We weren’t ready to play, and Gladstone has really improved and gotten better throughout the year. Hats off to coach Kiesby,” Ishpeming coach Christopher Magnuson said. “When you’re not ready to play and you get down 10-12 points right away… it’s tough to dig out of. Gladstone is a very good defensive team. We had some looks, but hats off to them.”

Both teams clamped down defensively in the third quarter. In fact, the third stanza saw the teams combine to score 13 points.

But a 3-pointer from Gibbs and a steal turned into a layup gave the Braves a 33-24 advantage entering the fourth quarter. It would be as close as the Hematites got for the rest of the night.

“Defensively, I thought we were really good in the third quarter. Offensively, we just got to make shots,” Magnuson said. “We have good looks in the third quarter and you know, but that’s basketball. We shot 11-of-49 tonight. You’re not going to win many games shooting 11-for-49.”

Ishpeming falls to 9-4 with the loss, and the Braves improve to 6-7 while avenging the loss from their home opener.

“It was the third game of the year. We had them where we wanted them, and late-game situations hurt us a lot in the early part of the year,” Kiesby said of the previous meeting against Ishpeming. “From then until now, late-game situations are better. We’re stronger with the basketball, being able to rebound, take care of the basketball, make stops when we need stops and get buckets when we need buckets.”

The Braves stay on the road to face Menominee at 7 p.m. EST on Friday. The Hematites travel to face Munising at 7 p.m. Friday.


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