GLADSTONE - The Gladstone girls still have a long way to go, but at times during Friday night's 43-37 victory over Gwinn, they showed flashes of high potential.
Alexis St. Cyr displayed her athleticism in leading the Braves in scoring for the second game in this early season and the Gladstone defense confounded the Modeltowners at times, creating turnovers at key moments and getting 10 steals.
"Our defense was real good at times tonight. The girls took a gamble at times, but you'll have that," said Braves coach Karl Dollhopf. "It's just a matter of how long you can sustain it for. We threw them a lot of different looks and I'm happy with our progress right now."
Keith Shelton | Daily Press
Gladstone’s Christine Sharon drives to the net as Kaylee Arnsparger of Gwinn closes in Friday night at Gladstone. The Braves won 43-37.
Keith Shelton | Daily Press
Gladstone’s Sadie Strasser goes up for a shot as Gwinn’s Katie Aho (34) and Ellie Olson (21) defend during the second quarter Friday night at Gladstone.
It was another night of hot and cold for the young Braves - Dollhopf started one senior, two juniors and two sophomores, but as a credit to their competitiveness, the team didn't falter even when Gwinn took the lead early in the fourth quarter.
Fortunately for Gladstone, Gwinn also went on some lengthy dry spells.
After the opening four minutes of the game, Gwinn held a 3-2 lead.
Four minutes into the third quarter, five points between the two teams were scored and Gladstone held a 27-21 advantage.
Dollhopf chalked the inconsistencies up to lineup shuffling.
"Right now, we're just looking for the right combination," he said. "We went with eight different starting lineups last year so I'm not afraid to try new things. At times we struggled and other times it went smooth. We're trying to get rid of the hiccups and correct things from night to night."
Gwinn was able to throw Gladstone off it's fast-paced game at times with physical play as players like Ellie Olson and Kaylee Arnsparger drove inside and drew plenty of fouls.
St. Cyr drew five of them.
"St. Cyr did an outstanding job on offense tonight. She has a real knack of getting to the basket and showed it," said Dollhopf. "Unfortunately she got into some foul trouble and wasn't experienced enough to know to stay out of that. It's a teachable moment. There's nothing worse than sitting on the bench when you've got the hot hand and she'll learn from that."
Fortunately for the Braves, when St. Cyr was out, Lexi Hongisto and Alison Austin were able to pick up some baskets.
St. Cyr led Gladstone with 15 points and three steals. Hongisto had nine points, five rebounds and six blocks and Austin had eight points and five rebounds.
The Modeltowners, playing without Morgan Bruce, Paige Vincent and Shelby Talsma due to injury, trailed 25-18 at halftime and kept it close the rest of the way. In the third quarter they suddenly got hot shooting as they began raining triples to get back in it.
Jordyn Hutchens, Olsen and Lydia Asplund each hit one and Gwinn pulled within 31-27 going into the fourth quarter.
"We've got some shooters," said Modeltowners coach Ben Olsen. "When they're open, I tell the girls I want the first open shot. They did a good job tonight of making them. We didn't make them very much against Ishpeming, so it was nice to see some of those shots fall."
Gwinn was led by Olsen's 13 points and two steals. Arnsparger had five points and eight rebounds and Hutchens scored nine points.
Another triple from Olsen early in the fourth quarter brought the score to 31-30 and Gwinn took the lead for the first time since leading 3-0 at the start of the game on a jumper from Hutchens.
Gladstone however answered right back on a lay-up from Hongisto and the Braves never looked back.
"It was a close game and we're getting there," said Olsen. "We're coming off a game against Ishpeming where they pressed us the whole night and caused 29 turnovers. We focused on handling pressure and taking care of the ball. So I'm glad they kind of pressured us tonight because we were able to use what we had learned in practice. I thought we did a great job tonight of handling pressure. We just have to take it one more step and try to get baskets off the press."
Gladstone also won the jayvee game 66-33.
Both teams resume Tuesday night; Gladstone hosts Marquette while Gwinn travels to Bark River-Harris.