Braves take Kingsford in district basketball preview


Sports Writer

KINGSFORD – Gladstone took a 2-0 lead Tuesday in the girls basketball series with Kingsford but the most important game won’t be played until next week.

The Braves’ well rounded attack and solid defense knocked off the Flivvers 49-39 in Great Northern Conference play Tuesday. Gladstone also claimed a 59-51 decision in December.

But the two teams are not done yet. They return to Kingsford for the Class B District 64 Tournament Monday. Tip-off is 6 p.m. (Central time).

“We’re in a pretty good rhythm,” Coach Karl Dollhopf said after his club’s sixth straight win. “We just want to keep that going.

“We both wanted to win tonight and his girls are certainly capable (after big wins over Escanaba and Marquette).”

Gladstone shut out Kingsford for almost five minutes in the first quarter and three minutes in the second to gain a 14-point cushion. The halftime spread was just 30-21 when Sammy Lindeman laced a couple buckets and Maria Wiltzius hit a triple.

“It’s obvious we struggled offensively,” said Coach Mike Cross, his Flivvers blanked for more than five minutes in the second half. “That’s a credit to what Gladstone was doing and a credit to us for not being real sharp.

“We didn’t execute very well (against a man or zone defense.”

Bridget Becker, 14 points; Jess Beaudry, 11 with five rebounds and four steals; Callie Jensen, 10, and Alexis St. Cyr, eight points and three assists, led the Braves. Lexi Hongisto also had three assists.

“There were times where we played pretty clean and other times we looked sloppy,” Dollhopf said. “Late in the game when we had a little bit of a margin we didn’t do a very good job of taking care of the ball and execute.

“As I told the girls, sometimes that’s a difficult part of the game when you’re up 12 to 14.”

Gladstone entered the fourth quarter with a 10-point gap after Kingsford got back to five midway through the third with a Courtney Qualley triple. The Flivvers moved as close as eight points in the fourth quarter while the Braves moved into a deliberate mode offensively.

“Gladstone is a pretty good team,” Cross said. “Overall, we did a good job defensively aside from the (20-point) second quarter.”

Qualley topped the Flivvers with 13 points – eight in the first half. Flivver junior Amber Larson, who found limited operating room inside, tallied six of her 10 points in the fourth quarter.

Kingsford also backed off on full-court pressure that has helped spike a recent turnaround.

“First time we played them we struggled to put pressure on them,” Cross said. “They just executed better than we did and made some shots (tonight).

“Sammy Lindeman hit a few shots and Qualley did, too, but we have to have some other kids come in and bang a few shots in. Hopefully, we can step this up Monday.”

Dollhopf cited defense in checking Larson and Beaudry (four second-half points).

“Both teams did a pretty good job neutralizing bigs,” Dollhopf said. “Beaudry didn’t get many clean looks in the post and at the same time I don’t believe Larson did either.”

Dollhopf did wonder if Kingsford was holding something back for Monday’s district opener.

“There’s a little bit of gamesmanship when you have to come back and play Monday,” Dollhopf said. “They’re going to throw everything at us.”

Both teams had 17 turnovers Tuesday.

To close out the regular season Thursday, Kingsford (8-10, 2-6) travels to Norway and Gladstone (13-6, 5-3) hosts Iron Mountain.

“Gladstone has proved they’re a solid team,” Cross said. “Right now they’re better than we are. We just have to play better on one night.”

Gladstone’s junior varsity downed Kingsford 57-41. Brianna Robinson, 17 points, and Mariana Bianco, 10, led the Flivvers.

Kingsford’s freshmen wound up unbeaten with a 52-28 win over Gladstone. Sabrina Wickman, Abby Tomasoski, Hannah Carlson and Sydney Wickman combined for 42 points.

Gladstone 10 20 8 11 – 49

Kingsford 6 15 7 11 – 39

GLADSTONE: St. Cyr 8, Wulf 2, Jensen 10, Becker 14, Beaudry 11, Hongisto 4. FT: 10-13. F: 9.

KINGSFORD: Jennings 3, Lindeman 6, Erickson 2, Larson 10, Wiltzius 5, Qualley 13. FT: 6-6. F: 13. Fouled out: Jennings.

3-point FG: Jennings, Wiltzius, Qualley, Jensen 2, Becker. FG shooting: Kingsford 15 made, Gladstone 16-37. Rebounding: Gladstone 20 (Beaudry 5).