Clutch Hematites deny Braves

GLADSTONE – The Gladstone Braves fought the Ishpeming Hematites right down to the wire Tuesday night, but the Hematites’ careful shot selection allowed them to escape Gladstone with a 48-44 non-conference triumph.

“Ishpeming played well, and made some big plays in the second half,” said Braves coach Karl Dollhopf. “They were very patient against our zone and they worked the ball around. Their girls dictated what shots they were going to take, which I think is key. We played hard, but we didn’t make enough plays to win.”

The Hematites held a 35-32 edge heading into the fourth quarter, and the Braves did everything they could to earn the win. Ishpeming clung to a 46-44 lead with just 15 seconds left after Gladstone’s Callie Jensen grabbed a rebound and put it back up to bring her team within two. But the Braves were forced to foul, and Alesha O’Brien knocked down both free throws to secure the victory.

“I thought our girls did real well,” said Ishpeming coach Mark Dellangelo. “They pressured us a little bit, but we handled it. Gladstone’s a good team, they always play hard and mix it up and they did that tonight. Fortunately, we were able to come out and get a win.”

The game was tied at 14 after the first quarter when Gladstone’s Lexi Hongisto beat the buzzer with a jump shot. The Braves spent a great deal of the second quarter working their way inside the paint, and they mounted an eight-point lead early on. However, the Hematites ended the period on an 8-2 run to cut Gladstone’s lead to 26-24 at halftime.

“They were able to score some buckets on the inside, but we made some changes,” said Dellangelo. “We did our best to make them come out of their comfort zone, and my bench helped to spread the floor for us, find some gaps, and get some open shots.”

Ishpeming slowed the tempo and moved the ball around until O’Brien put in a triple to open the third quarter. But aggressive play from the Braves and some key shots from Hongisto kept the game very close.

Jessica Spencer led the Hematites with 12 points, while Jess Beaudry paced the Braves with 13.

Gladstone (7-6), which took the jayvee game 41-33, hosts Westwood Thursday. Ishpeming (10-4) hosts Norway Thursday.