Balanced Braves get everyone in the mix

GLADSTONE – Gladstone didn’t have any players in double figure scoring, but it didn’t matter as all 12 Braves found their way into the score-book for a 60-41 non-conference victory over Manistique on Tuesday.

Seven seniors were honored prior to the contest as they played their final home game in a Braves’ uniform. Gladstone head coach Dale Hongisto said the group has been a pleasure to coach.

“All seven seniors have worked their butts off,” Hongisto said. “Some play more than others and the ones that haven’t played as much as they’ve liked, they’ve stayed the course and they’ve been good teammates.”

Manistique jumped out to a 4-0 lead early, but the Braves closed the first quarter on a 6-0 run as they held a 8-7 advantage heading into the second. Gladstone stayed fresh by subbing in groups of five players at a time.

The Braves second five used a half-court trap to cause nine Emerald turnovers in the second quarter as they took a 27-17 lead into the half.

Manistique head coach Todd Kangas said his team worked against the pressure better in the second half but struggled early.

“We had a few turnovers against that trap in the second quarter,” Kangas said. “I think we did a good job of adjusting that at halftime, it didn’t seem to be an issue with us in the third quarter and fourth quarter. We were able to break it pretty well and get some scoring opportunities from it.”

Coby Ryan was on the receiving end of the Emeralds press break. The senior forward netted 10 points in the third, mostly off of layups. Ryan hit a layup to cut the deficit to 33-24 midway through the third quarter.

Just as the Emeralds pulled within striking distance, Gladstone junior Jake Peterson put an end to the comeback bid as he sunk back-to-back 3-pointers during a 9-0 run that gave the Braves a 42-24 lead.

“It was nice to see Jake Peterson go 2-of-2 from the 3-point line.” Hongisto said. “He’s an excellent shooter and he’s been struggling a little bit, so tonight to go 2-for-2 was nice.”

Manistique responded with a 6-0 run to end the quarter as they trailed 43-32 heading into the final eight minutes.

Gladstone called Max Mahoney’s number to start the fourth quarter and the senior center responded, scoring seven straight points for the Braves. Gladstone was able to keep it’s lead in double figures for the remainder of the game.

Junior Andrew Olesak led Gladstone with eight points. Hunter Wells led the team with six rebounds. The Braves had 14 steals and recorded 12 assists. Each senior scored at least twice for the Braves who shot 19-of-41 from two point range.

“It was great to see the seniors play a lot of minutes, even the guys who don’t normally play a lot of minutes and they performed well to,” Hongisto said. It is overall an unselfish crew. They’re really good kids, they care about each other, they care about the coaching staff, they care about their families. It’s an enjoyable team to be around.”

The Emeralds were paced by Tyler Kangas who netted 14 points. Ryan added another 12. Coach Kangas noted the importance of a third scoring option for his team. Manistique (1-17) hosts Big Bay de Noc this Thursday for their regular season finale.

Gladstone (8-11) travels to Escanaba to take on the Eskymos this Wednesday in the first round of districts.