Braves clutch at the stripe

MENOMINEE – Half empty and half full.

The Menominee girls chopped a huge halftime deficit to six points Saturday before the Braves used a whopping 22-3 advantage at the line to claim a 45-37 Great Northern Conference victory.

“It was a story of two halfs,” Menominee coach Lucas Chouinard said. “They were more aggressive in the first half and we were more aggressive in the second half. We really scrapped in the second half. The effort and intensity was 100 percent better. We got some turnovers and we were able to get some easy baskets.”

The Maroons went went scoreless for the final 7 1/2 minutes of the first half and made just one field goal over an 11 1/2 -minute span while falling into a 29-9 hole.

The Braves combined their mixture of defensive traps and physical play on the offensive boards to build their big lead.

Menominee thawed out of its deep-freeze shooting by connecting on 8 of 14 shots in the third quarter, while Gladstone went cold, sinking just one of nine shots.

The hot shooting touch of Lexi Christian lit the fire for the Maroon comeback. She finished off a pair of fast-breaks with layups and then nailed a 3-pointer from the left baseline. The senior then opened the third quarter with a 3-ball from the top of the key to slash the lead to 35-29 with 7:36 left in the game.

“Lexi Christian made some big shots for us,” Chouinard said. “We were able to get her open on the wing. When we’re able to do that, we can be pretty tough.”

Bridget Becker answered with an inside basket and Callie Jensen’s two FTs bumped the lead to 39-29.

After a flurry of turnovers by both teams, Maddy Anderla popped in a shot from the lane and Amanda Pedersen scored inside to pull the Maroons within six (41-35) again with 1:32 left.

Alexis St. Cyr and Jensen each sank a pair of FTs to hold off the Maroons.

Menominee turned the ball over seven times in the fourth quarter and was 0 for 3 from the line. The Braves (9-6, 3-3 GNC) sank 8 of 11 free throws in the final quarter.

The Maroon comeback was hampered when Allison Barley went out with a knee injury with 4:16 left in the game and the Braves leading 39-31. Barley, who had six points, returned to the bench on crutches.

Christian led the Maroons (10-5, 3-2 GNC) with 10 points and Allia Stewart had eight points, six rebounds, three steals and four assists. Anderla had five steals and Pedersen had eight rebounds.

Becker topped the Braves with 12 points, Jensen and St. Cyr each had nine and Christine Sharon added eight.

Menominee had just seven shots from the line.

The Maroons play host to Kingsford tonight. The Flivvers are coming off a 48-47 upset of previously unbeaten Marquette.

Gladstone visits rival Escanaba tonight.