Braves go cold as Flivvers take charge

GLADSTONE – The shots weren’t falling for Gladstone on Friday and Kingsford took advantage, shooting a blistering 57 percent as it knocked off Gladstone 51-36 for their first Great Northern Conference win of the season.

“When you shoot well it takes care of a lot of stuff,” said Flivvers head coach Dan Olkkonen. “We’ve been battling from behind all year, especially in the first and second quarters.”

This time Kingsford didn’t have to worry about playing from behind as they jumped out to a 15-4 first quarter lead.

In the second quarter, the Flivvers offense was patient in looking for their shot. In their first possession they used over a minute of clock before Lucas Jennings drained a 3-pointer to put them ahead 18-4. Oikkonen said his team has been more settled in their offense as of late.

“The last three weeks we’ve been working on just getting the best shot and we’re okay with running a minute off there and running our offense because that means they’re playing defense and usually if we don’t get anything off our continuity offense we will go to a set play. Now the defense is working and we get better shots.”

The Flivvers offense benefited from their patience as they connected on 7-of-12 3-pointers in the game, including five in the first half, en-route to building a 23-8 lead half-time.

“We’ve always been playing from behind and when we are able to play from ahead and look at the game from a different side of the court it really makes it special when they can come out there and execute,” Oikkonen said.

While the Flivvers offense was surging, Gladstone struggled to convert, missing several lay-ups early and a handful of uncontested jumpers. Gladstone shot 3-of-20 in the first half. The Braves were without head coach Dale Hongisto due to sickness. Dane Quigley, who filled in for Hongisto as coach said the Braves were getting the shots they wanted, just not the results.

“We got a lot of good looks in the first quarter but they just didn’t fall,” Quigley said.

“We were happy with what the offense was doing. We were moving the ball, we were getting the looks that we wanted. I can think of six lay-ups and another bunny that should have gone in but they didn’t go in and that costs you 12 points right there.”

The Braves switched to a 1-3-1 zone in the third quarter and were able to use the half-court trap to create turnovers and make a small run at Kingsford.

The Braves cut the deficit to 11 points multiple times and had chances to trim the margin to single digits but each time they got close Kingsford responded with a bucket.

“It’s kind of heartbreaking when you work hard and you cut it down, you’re in a hole as it is,” Quigley said. “I think we had it to nine at one point and every time they hit one of those big shots it took the wind out of our sails.”

Braves forward Andrew Olesak drained a corner 3-pointer to trim Kingsford’s lead to 39-28 early in the fourth quarter but Dan Harrington responded with two of his game high 17 points to put the Flivvers back ahead by 13.

“Dan Harrington had a great night,” Olkkonen said. “Being patient, being able to take his shots, he was able to shot well for us. He had those early three pointers but being able to take it to the hole was huge.”

Jack Glodowski added 15 points, seven rebounds and four blocks for the Flivvers who improve to 3-10 overall and 1-4 in the GNC. The Braves (5-8 overall, 1-5 GNC) were led by Tyler Wells who scored 13 points. They are back in action on Tuesday as they travel to Negaunee.