Hongisto powers Braves rout

GLADSTONE – WIth the Manistique Emeralds in town, Gladstone Braves head coach Karl Dollhopf mixed up his lineup and gave all 10 of his players ample playing time in a 72-25 non-conference victory, Friday night.

“It was an opportunity for us, being a non-conference game, to get other kids involved and try out a some different combinations,” Dollhopf said.

The Braves (6-3) had Kelsey King and Anna Caramella in the starting lineup and both players looked right at home defensively, though it took a bit for Gladstone to get going on the offensive end.

Midway through the first period, the Braves held a 2-1 lead with no field goals scored by either team. Manistique led 3-2 briefly when Samantha Williams hit the first field goal of the game.

That woke the Braves up as they poured on 12 points in the last 3:30 of the quarter. Lexi Hongisto dominated, scoring nine consecutive points to put the Braves in front 15-3 at the end of the period. They never looked back.

“Sometimes it’s hard offensively to get into a flow,” Dollhopf said of starting a new lineup. “But defensively, I have the same expectations. The first four minutes were kind of slow on offense, but once we got it going, things went pretty well and we accomplished what we needed to get.”

Hongisto had the hot hand Friday night, getting good looks at the basket and hitting her shots. She finished with a career-high 21 points.

“Lexi came out with spark. She hit her first shot and it just kind of went from there,” said Dollhopf. “She had a mindset to attack and I thought all her shots were good shot selection. She earned it, she’s was going extra hard.”

Manistique (2-7), playing its second straight game against the Great Northern Conference, struggled on both ends and trailed 36-7 at halftime, but had a 10 point third quarter to stave off a running clock until a minute into the fourth quarter.

Head coach Kelley Spettel said the offensive struggles were one thing, but she wasn’t pleased with the defensive effort.

“Honestly, we haven’t played defense since the first half of our game against Negaunee a week ago,” she said. “We have some serious figuring out to do on the defensive end.

“Offensively, yes, we’re struggling. We’re getting shots. We had a ton of shots against Escanaba, but we just could not put the ball in the net. We’re in a huge offensive slump and we’re not playing good position defense.”

Spettel went on to challenge her team to improve.

“Shooting-wise, I tell the kids you have to work at it and develop the talent, but defense, anyone can do it. It’s all about will and wanting to. We apparently don’t want to,” she said. “We still gave up 17 points in the third, so to me that’s not a nice quarter.”

Williams led the Emeralds with 11 points.

All 10 players got on the board for Gladstone, which had 19 assists as a team. Jensen had 11 points, King grabbed nine rebounds, Bridget Becker had four assists and Alexis St. Cyr and Caramella had three steals apiece.

“The other girls had good defensive rebounding and shared the ball well. When you have 19 assists, that means you’re sharing the ball and hitting the open person,” Dollhopf said.

Jess Beaudry played her second game since returning from a back injury, playing sparse minutes but making a nice contribution in the paint.

“She had a left-handed hook in the paint that was nice. It’s nice to have two games under her belt,” said Dollhopf. “our philosophy with her is bringing her back slowly. We’re going into a stretch with Marquette and Menominee coming up where we’ll need her healthy and in a rhythm. Now, against Escanaba and Manistique we’ve been able to accomplish our goals without playing her 32 minutes.”

Gladstone, which won the jayvee game 71-20, hosts the undefeated Marquette Redettes, Tuesday. Manistique visits Munising on Tuesday.