Maroons make their freebies

GLADSTONE – Free throw shooting has been an Achilles heel for both the Gladstone Braves and Menominee Maroons this season.

Tuesday night in a Great Northern Conference girls matchup, both teams made nearly the same amount of foul shots, but Menominee was 80 percent from the line, especially down the stretch to help secure a 50-46 victory,

It was not the prettiest victory for the Maroons. They committed a flurry of turnovers and shot 15-of-41 (36 percent) from the field, but they came up big at key moments.

“It was ugly both ways,” said Maroons head coach Lucas Chouinard “But at the same time, when we needed to make plays, we made plays. A win is a win, even an ugly win.”

Menominee’s zone spread the Braves out and forced them into plenty of turnovers as well. For much of the night if Gladstone wasn’t turning the ball over trying to drive inside, they were bouncing balls off the rim shooting from the perimeter as they shot 11-of-42 (26 percent)

“Offensively, we struggled a bit and part of that was their aggressive defense,” said Gladstone head coach Karl Dollhopf.

“And 15-of-29 from the line. We talked about that a lot this year as far as making free throws. That has to be a part of your offense. That certainly would have helped us tonight to be around 70 percent. We do work on it and we’re aware of it. The fact that we’re getting there 29 times is nice, but they were 80 percent. We’re not even 50 percent.”

It was a tight game until the third quarter. Each team had eight turnovers in the first quarter, but Gladstone held a 10-9 lead, until Madeline Anderla opened the second frame with a triple, and hit another one midway through. Menominee led 20-18 at the break and used that momentum to pull away.

“I told them, whoever came out with the most intensity would likely be the victor and it held true,” said Chouinard. “We got them to turn it over quite a bit, got some good shots and we knocked them down.”

A key 7-0 run at the start of the third gave Menominee the separation it needed, and the Maroons curtailed that into 35-24 advantage a minute into the fourth quarter.

Gladstone’s offense got the spark it had been searching for all game as well when Anna Carmella hit a clutch layup and hit the point after the foul. After a Jess Beaudry free throw, the Braves had pulled within 39-35.

“It just seemed like things started compounding defensively,” said Chouinard. “We couldn’t get keep the ball in bounds and that hurt us, but then they started fouling us, and our biggest issue has been free throw shooting, but it came through tonight, and good thing it did.”

The Maroons had two players foul out late in the fourth, but used their fouls wisely and Gladstone couldn’t capitalize.

Menominee (8-2, 3-0 GNC) made nine out of 10 free throw attempts down the stretch to keep the four point margin while Gladstone went four-of-eight in the final minutes.

“We had a group out there that was putting up the effort defensively and got us back in it,” said Dollhopf. “Then it was a matter of, can you make your free throws at the end, and when we weren’t making them, they were making them.”

Bridget Becker had a nice game for Gladstone in the loss, scoring a career high 15 points with four steals and six rebounds. Beaudry collected six rebounds, four steals and three assists with nine points.

“I was pleased with Becker’s performance,” said Dollhopf. “She led us in rebounding and steals, just a very nice game getting it done on both ends.”

Anderla led the Maroons with 18 points and four steals. Amanda Simmons had nine points with five rebounds.

Gladstone won the jayvee game 50-34 and the freshman game 55-24. The Braves (6-5, 2-3 GNC) resume Thursday at Big Bay de Noc.