GLADSTONE - To illustrate the total domination of Gladstone's Class B district championship victory Saturday, consider this statistic.
With 3:21 left to play, Sault Ste. Marie finally had more points than Gladstone's Jammie Botruff. And this came after Botruff had been resting on the bench for nearly six minutes.
The Braves waltzed into their second straight regional with a 61-39 cakewalk as Botruff matched her career high with 30 points. She was done with a minute left in the third quarter, but the Blue Devils were done much sooner.
Dennis Grall | Daily Press
Hemmed in by Sault Ste. Marie defenders Saturday, Jammie Botruff of Gladstone passes the ball as teammate Katie Becker tries to get open in the Class B district championship game. Defenders include Katherine Wollan (24), Helenna Krull (rear) and Jacqueline Harwood (15). For more photos, visit cu.dailypress.net.
Sault coach Pat Bennin said "Botruff is a very good player. We didn't have an answer for her."
Gladstone coach Karl Dollhopf said his senior ace scored in a variety of ways. "She finished plays, she was in the right place. Some times good things happen that way. We didn't run anything specifically for her."
Botruff said "we came out more relaxed. We've been here before. Someone steps up every game, it is not just about one person. It is literally team basketball. We know how to control the game."
Sault High 8 9 6 16 - 39
Gladstone 21 19 12 9 - 61
Sault High - Metrish 5, Johnston 8, Harwood 4, Brosco 2, Wollan 9, Fitzpatrick 1, Parmer 10. FT: 10-21; F: 22; Fouled out: Parmer; 3-point field goals: Parmer 3, Johnston 2.
Gladstone - Schwartz 1, Nevala 4, Wells 2, Becker 4, Botruff 30, Boddy 9, Sharon 2, J. Beaudry 5, Leisner 2, A. Beaudry 2. FT: 13-21; F: 17; Fouled out: None; 3-point field goals: Boddy 2, Nevala, Botruff.
The Braves took control by closing out the first quarter with a 17-3 outburst that included 13 points by Botruff, a Grand Valley State recruit, for a 21-8 lead.
The lead swelled to 40-17 at halftime as five players scored, with the Braves using a 13-0 flurry over the final 2:18 of the half.
If Sault had any plans of an unlikely rally, Botruff put them to rest by scoring three baskets to open the third quarter and had all 12 points of the stanza as the Braves built a 52-23 cushion.
The impressive victory came 18 hours after the Braves escaped from Escanaba with a 48-45 victory that was as tight and tense as a tournament game can be, especially against an arch-rival.
That was all missing Saturday, but the Braves still brought their high energy, high pressure style to nullify any upset hopes held by the Blue Devils (14-8).
"That is our goal every game. We want to set the tempo, we want to play our game, not theirs," said Botruff, who had just received two handmade signs from a young fan.
She said the players were physically tired after Friday's victory but mentally she said "we were all there. This was a district championship game, you have to be there. We know how to control the game."
Sault created some early problems with a 1-2-2 press that forced some turnovers. The Blue Devils also pushed their zone high to disrupt Gladstone's offensive flow, which also created some turnovers.
"We knew they would try something different, but once we got the kinks out we were okay," said Dollhopf. "The key for us is to make sure we play fast, offensively and defensively, moreso on defense."
Dollhopf said he has learned during his four-year tenure with the girls that the key to success at this level "is to keep it up-tempo and find ways to score with your defense. It is a fun style to play, when you can play it."
Bennin was impressed by the Braves, who also beat Sault 75-49 Feb. 18.
"They have good length on defense, they have quick athletes. They are a pretty sound ballclub with one good go-to player and they come at you in waves. It will take a good team to beat them," he said.
The Braves carry a 22-game winning streak into the Class B regional at Gaylord Tuesday. They play Gladwin (11-11) at 7:30, after Cheboygan meets Ludington in the opener.
The Braves won their first regional title last year before falling in the quarterfinals. "We want to go further than we did last year," said Botruff, who agreed that the season-long target on their backs provided motivation.
"We used that to our advantage. We had to come out and play hard every game."
Dollhopf said "they set their goals early in the season and they have stayed true to them. They have maintained their focus."