Shots finally fall for Braves

GLADSTONE – The shots were available all night, Gladstone just had to make them.

Luckily for the Braves they found the bottom of the net in the second half as they erased a first half deficit to edge Mid Peninsula 56-48 on Thursday night.

Gladstone struggled early as the Wolverines packed the paint with a two-three zone, daring the Braves to shoot. The plan worked early as Gladstone went 1-of-13 from 3-point territory and fell behind 22-19 at halftime.

Mid Pen head coach Mark Branstrom said stuffing the lane was a necessity after the Wolverines’ 71-44 loss to Gladstone on Dec. 23, a contest in which they were out-rebounded 43-27.

“It was unbelievable, they scored all of their points in the paint, most of it was in transition so we weren’t getting back quick enough and then we got out-rebounded which you just can’t do,” Branstrom said. “It was so easy for them to score it was pathetic and tonight we just made it harder on them to score.”

“I thought we played pretty decent, we came up against a team that really showed us what our problems are that we had to fix and we fixed most of them but we didn’t fix Mr. Hunter.”

Jared Hunter got the Braves rolling in the third quarter, scoring 10 of his game and career high 25 in the frame.

“He was knocking down that 12 footer on the bank shot and that was good to see because he’s either been pretty darn good or he’s been scuffling, and tonight he broke out and I just had a talk with him and said we’ve got to try to develop some consistency and keep that going game after game,” said Gladstone head coach Dale Hongisto.

Gladstone’s offense erupted with a 10-0 run to begin the third quarter, regaining the lead for the first time since the opening bucket. Gladstone took a 29-22 advantage with just over five minutes left in the quarter.

“Hunter played really well for them and did an excellent job shooting wise, and the coach did a great job of adjusting to what I did there, especially in the third quarter and in the second half,” Branstrom said.

Gladstone took a 41-38 lead into the fourth quarter but the Wolverines struck first in the final eight minutes as senior Evan Winkelbauer connected on a 3-pointer to knot the game at 41-41.

The Braves responded with an 11-point run, giving them a 52-41 lead with just under two minutes left in the game. Gladstone turned up the defensive pressure in the second half and forced Mid Pen into more of an up-tempo game, something that Branstrom was hoping to avoid.

“Everybody made some mistakes that cost us a little bit,” he said. “We had a decent first half and in the second half we had the wheels fall off just once a little bit, and against Gladstone that’s what happens.”

Gladstone got a boost in the second half from David Dykowski and Max Mahoney. The senior big-man duo started the third quarter and helped the Braves gain an edge on the offensive glass.

“I’m extremely pleased we got a win,” Hongisto said. “I think it’s a better win then a lot of people realize because everybody is just going to say it’s Gladstone and you’re supposed to beat Mid Pen. We won by eight because they had a great game-plan, we didn’t hit shots early, they packed it in. We made some adjustments, went with some bigger kids in the second half and it paid off, so I’m extremely happy.”

Gladstone (2-4) is back on the court Saturday as it hosts St. Ignace. Mid Peninsula (1-5) is back in action Thursday, travelling to Carney-Nadeau.

Gladstone won the jayvee contest 62-38.