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Braves take control in OT, top Miners

Todd Rose | Daily Press Gladstone’s Rane Castor (40) shoots over Negaunee’s Will Luke (14) and Eli Luokkala (24) Tuesday night in Gladstone.

GLADSTONE — It was a nailbiter of a game Tuesday night for the Gladstone boys basketball team (2-1) as they outlasted the Negaunee Miners (1-3) 62-52 in an overtime battle in Gladstone.

“It feels great. A win is a win,” said Brave head coach Mike Cretens. “I tell the team that every day. We come into the locker room (and I tell them): ‘We gotta go one 1-0 today. It doesn’t matter what happened in the past, 1-0 today.’ When you get down to March, 1-0 matters every single day.”

The game was a neck-and-neck battle throughout, with the Braves holding a slight edge for the majority of the game.

With eight seconds left in regulation, Negaunee’s Gerald Johnson nailed a three to bring the Miners within striking distance of the Braves, 52-49. After that shot, the Miners intentionally fouled to stop the clock, sending Rane Castor of Gladstone to the line shooting one and one.

Castor missed, and the Miners snagged the rebound.

With 1.8 seconds left on the clock, Negaunee had one chance to force overtime.

Will Luke chucked the ball across the court to a wide-open Johnson who buried another three as the buzzer rang, the teams tied at 52.

“I gotta give credit to my JV coach, Kevin Jacobsen,” said Miners head coach Dan Waterman. “He was like, ‘Just run Chicago from here!’ and we did.

“Will Luke made a heck of a pass. He kind of hooked it over there. And Gerald, to his credit, stepped up and made a huge shot to give us another chance.”

Once in overtime, however, the Braves shut the Miners out.

Cam Ballard put the lead in the hands of the Braves about 40 seconds into OT. With the Braves also in double bonus, Ballard went to the free-throw line on two occasions. He shot 4-4.

Hunter Potier also put up four points for Gladstone in OT.

Potier led the Braves in scoring with 24 points. He also had 15 rebounds.

“Hunter Potier carried us today,” said Cretens. “That was outstanding. He is a force on the court.”

Cam Ballard put up 16 for Gladstone, and Rane Castor had 12.

“That was a tough game,” said Cretens. “I have high respect for Dan Waterman.

“He is one of the best coaches in the U.P. I knew coming into this game it was going to be a do fight no matter what kind of players he threw on the court.”

The Miners had two players, Johnson (22) and Luokkala (21), break the 20-point barrier. While Johnson was strong outside with 6 three-pointers, Luokkala handled the scoring down low.

“Eli’s a big, strong, kid,” said Waterman. “He’s very skilled. He’s the focal point of our offense, and you could see that he had their attention early and throughout the game … He’s a force for us.”

As the Miners prepare to host Marquette Thursday, Waterman was pleased with the strides the team made.

“We played hard and gave ourselves a chance,” he said. “I thought we got better tonight, and we’re going to continue to do that because it doesn’t get any easier. Marquette’s coming to our place on Thursday, and they’re really really, good.”

Gladstone visits Menominee Friday.

Negaunee 6 13 13 20 0 — 52

Gladstone 12 8 17 12 10 — 62

Negaunee: Johnson 22, Luokkala 21, Luke 8, Jacobetti 1; F: 16; FT: 8-13; Fouled out: Luokkala, Luke; 3-point field goals: Johnson 6, Luke 5.

Gladstone: Potier 24, Ballard 16, Castor 12, Hughes 8, Kelly 2; F: 12; FT: 7-9; Fouled out: Potier; 3-point field goals: Castor.

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