Braves fall in nailbiter

KINGSFORD – While it didn’t last three overtimes, Gladstone and Menominee definitely went the distance in Monday’s Class B District 64 girls basketball semifinal.

Up-for-grabs until the end, the Maroons, backed by Amanda Pedersen’s game highs of 17 points and 11 rebounds, held off the Braves 47-46 to advance to a Wednesday district final against Kingsford.

The Flivvers beat Escanaba 46-34 in Monday’s first semifinal.

“It was very tough,” Maroons head coach Lucas Chouinard said. “We definitely could have put away down the stretch. But we made plays at the end when we needed to. We made key rebounds, key stops, which was very important, and we didn’t foul down the stretch which was huge.

“So it was a very good team win for us.”

Menominee (10-10) earned its first victory in three tries over the Braves (10-11), this one proving as physical as it was thrilling.

The Maroons took the lead for good on a pair of Taylor Roman free throws with just under a minute to play.

Having gone three overtimes in a regular-season meeting earlier this month, Monday’s contest seemed destined for a similar fate. The teams exchanged the lead a dozen times in the contest and were tied three times in the final quarter before Roman’s free throws.

Gladstone had three separate chances to tie or take a lead in the final minute, thanks in part to the Maroons only being able to add one more freebie following Roman’s pair.

Coming up empty on the first two possessions, the Braves had one final opportunity down three with 8.8 seconds left. In-bounding on their own baseline with no timeouts, Jess Beaudry got the ball and opted to drive in for two.

Time ran out before the Braves could foul again.

While the Maroons might have prevented such a dramatic ending with a few more made free throws, Gladstone too was plagued by troubles at the stripe, going 13-for-27 in the game.

“We have to make more than that,” Braves coach Karl Dollhopf said. “We knew we were going to get there, it’s just a matter of making them.”

Christine Sharon led Gladstone with 13 points. Beaudry scored 10 and pulled down a team-best eight rebounds.

After Menominee recovered from Gladstone’s 5-0 start to the ballgame, barely a bucket separated the two teams throughout.

Back-to-back baskets by Alexys Christian and a drive by Pedersen allowed Menominee to pull in front 29-24 at the start of the second half, but Gladstone fired right back, and a triple by Alexis St. Cyr put the Braves ahead 31-29 with 3:05 to play in the third.

While that proved to be the Braves last lead of the game, Gladstone was never more than another three away from taking a lead again.

“We had some putbacks that didn’t go for us,” Dollhopf said. “I credit the girls for the effort. I thought we let Pedersen get going too early in the game. We did a good job with putting on pressure in the second half. It just seemed like we had a hard time finishing our shots.”

Christian finished with 11 points for the Maroons. Roman scored 10. Karli Barley added the lone late free throw, that coming with 17.9 seconds left.

“We knew it was going to be a very competitive game,” Chouinard said. “It was a very good team win for us. We knew we had a chance if we took care of the basketball, and we did for the most part. We struggled on the glass a little bit, but down the stretch, we made the key rebounds and that’s why we came away with the victory.”

Menominee faces a 17-4 Flivver team Wednesday. Kingsford won both regular season meetings, 39-37 on Jan. 17, and 56-45 on Feb. 11.