GLADSTONE - Depending on your vantage point Friday night, there was either a game of two teams that had trouble shooting, or two evenly matched rivals that wore each other down over 32 minutes.
Maybe it was a little of both.
With 13 seconds remaining Jessica Beaudry received a pass inside and hit the game winning shot for Gladstone on a second chance layup. The Braves won the Great Northern Conference matchup 35-33.
Paul Gerard photo
Escanaba’s Michelle LaFave (54) drives in the lane toward the net as Gladstone defender Jessica Beaudry (32) closes in Friday night at Gladstone. The Braves won 35-33.
"It was similar to what Houghton did to us," said Braves coach Karl Dollhopf of the last play of the game. "If we're going to lose, let's get it inside and have a shot at a layup or a shot at some free throws. The girls did a good job executing."
Gladstone held off Escanaba's top offensive threat, Michelle LaFave for just long enough to come away with the victory and Beaudry's game winner came just in time. LaFave had scored six of her game-high 12 points in the last four minutes of the game and sunk the potential game winner with 16 seconds remaining.
"We came out of the time out and we had a set for Michelle and ran it to perception," said Escanaba coach Kelly O'Connell. "They were patient, they hit her on the block and she made a big time shot."
Escanaba 8 11 6 8 - 33
Gladstone 12 5 10 8 - 35
Escanaba - Jenshak 8, Beauchamp 3, Gafner 4, Berquist 5, Fritz 1, LaFave 12; FT: 2-5; F: 14; Fouled out: None; 3-point field goals: Berquist.
Gladstone - Austin 6, St. Cyr 5, Strasser 4, Wulf 3, Jensen 4, Sharon 4, Beaudry 7, Hongisto 2; FT: 7-18; F: 9; Fouled out: None; 3-point field goals: None.
Earlier in the quarter, LaFave hit a reverse layup to put Escanaba up 31-29. That prompted the Escanaba fanbase to break out into song as they serenaded the court with a lovely rendition of Silent Night.
Though the scoring was sparse, both teams kept up their offensive pace. Escanaba spread the ball around more than usual out of necessity early on while Gladstone did the same, searching for a hot hand that never materialized.
"We're young and inexperienced, playing against the zone and looking for shots and sometimes you settle on too many perimeter shots," said Dollhopf. "You always want to see a good shooting performance but we're coming off a long break and for whatever reason - maybe we're too excited, but we just didn't shoot well and (Escanaba) didn't either, but both teams battled."
Alison Austin struck first with a quick jumper. Escanaba answered back with a triple from Zoe Berquist and eventually took an 8-2 lead with three points from Jessica Beauchamp and a Codi Jenshak field goal.
Gladstone held a 12-8 first quarter advantage but by halftime, Escanaba gained a tentative 19-17 lead.
To that point, though LaFave was pulling down rebounds and getting shots off, she didn't have much to show for it on the scoreboard, going into the half with just two points.
"To go into the locker room with a 19-17 lead and Michelle having just two points showed that both teams played good defense," said O'Connell. "They did a good job sealing Michelle, Jess Beaudry did a good job."
Dollhopf credited his team for the job they did on Escanaba's big forward.
"The girls did a real good job defensively and that's something we worked on," he said. "We have a lot of respect for Michelle and the girls recognize that and they did a real good job of not letting her get free. The baskets she did get, I thought they were tough baskets and she earned them."
O'Connell said to be in a position to win the game at the end was all he could ask for.
"I couldn't be more proud. I told the girls at halftime that they've really been competing hard and our record doesn't indicate that," he said. "What we've had in every game is a quarter where we go through a big drought. We didn't have that tonight. We played a full 32 minutes and I couldn't be more proud of the effort."
Gladstone won the jayvee game 39-18 and also took the freshman game 33-32 in overtime. The game was tied 31-31 at regulation and Morgan Kowalski hit the lone field goal in overtime to win the game.
Escanaba (2-5, 0-1 GNC) hosts Marquette Tuesday while Gladstone (4-4, 1-2) travels to Manistique on Friday.