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Braves wear down scrappy Black Bears

December 7, 2012
By Justin Marietti - Sports Reporter ( , Daily Press

GLADSTONE - The Big Bay de Noc Black Bears seized control of the game for the first half against the Gladstone Braves in their season opener Thursday, but in the third quarter the Braves beat the Black Bears at their own game, ultimately earning them a 73-61 victory.

Perhaps it was first-game jitters, or maybe the fact that the Black Bears had already played one game coming into the evening. But by the end of the opening quarter, the momentum was clearly in Big Bay's favor, as they outscored the Braves 21-15 and made all nine free throws they attempted.

"We started out a little flat, but that had a lot to do with Big Bay," said Gladstone coach Phil Griebel. "They made us that way; they made us stand around a little bit. They did a good job with their zone, and kept us out of the flow of the game."

Article Photos

Justin?Marietti |?Daily Press
Gladstone’s Jared Vuksan goes for a layup in the opening minute of the game?Thursday night against Big Bay de Noc.

The Black Bears swarmed all over the Braves on the defensive end, and they were able to capitalize on Gladstone's miscues and convert them into points.

Gladstone came out playing more physical in the second quarter, but good, smart play by the Black Bears allowed them to keep a small lead in the opening minutes. And with 5:37 remaining in the quarter, Big Bay finally missed their first free throw attempt of the game.

Gladstone started distributing the ball well, and as a result they were able to chip away at the lead until they finally reclaimed it.

Fact Box

Big Bay de Noc 21 16 8 16 - 61

Gladstone 15 21 19 18 - 73

Big Bay de Noc: Dalgord 6, Potvin 19, Holmberg 9, Pomeroy 18, Swayer 6, DeMars 3; FT: 20-23; F: 18; Fouled out: none; 3-point field goals: Holmberg, Pomeroy 2

Gladstone: R. Ballard 10, Kleiman 2, Godfrey 2, Cretens 18, B. Ballard 15, Hunter 8, Vuksan 18; FT: 13-23; F: 18; Fouled out: none; Technical fouls: Dykowski; 3-point field goals: R. Ballard, Cretens 3, B. Ballard 2

Rebounding and good penetration by the Braves implied a momentum shift, but some more late free throws by the Black Bears allowed them to head into halftime holding a 37-36 lead.

In regards to his team's stellar performance from the line, Big Bay coach Pat Groleau said, "That was phenomenal. I know these kids like shooting in this gym."

There was an almost complete role reversal when the Braves returned to the court in the third quarter. Gladstone spent a great deal of time at the free throw line, stayed physical, and played much better defense throughout the quarter.

"Our defensive energy in the first half was awful, and our defensive energy in the second half was outstanding, and that's why we won," Griebel said. "We gave them 22 free throws in the first half, and we gave them (one) in the second half. That tells the tale right there."

The Braves outscored the Black Bears 19-8 in the third quarter, giving them a 10-point lead heading into the fourth.

Zachary Pomeroy and Cole Potvin of Big Bay led an early rally in the fourth, allowing them to cut the deficit to 55-51. The Braves had trouble getting shots to fall, but Jared Vuksan decided to take over the game with brute force. He powered into the lane, posting up and knocking down an easy bucket. That was followed by a triple from Michael Cretens. boosting the lead back up to nine. But on the very next play, Bobby Holmberg of Big Bay answered right back with a huge three of his own.

The Braves had given themselves enough of a pad to comfortably seal the deal, and despite a late three-pointer from Pomeroy, the Braves won their first game of the season, 73-61.

"I knew that it was going to be a good game" Griebel added. "You can't take anybody for granted. (They have) good basketball players and good coaches. You can tell Pat does a great job with his kids, they know their stuff. I was just pleased that we got the win."

Groleau also had high praise for the opposition.

"We don't see teams with that many good players," he said. "We see teams with good players, but Gladstone's got some pretty good athletes, and that makes a difference."

He added that although the Black Bears are 0-2, he knows they will be just fine.

"We left it out on the floor," he said. "We played hard. I'm really proud of that. We'll be OK."

The Braves' jayvees also won their game, 63-39.

Gladstone resumes Tuesday when they host Marquette, while Big Bay heads to Hannahville Thursday.



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