Braves fall to Flivvers
KINGSFORD — Given how much the Gladstone boys basketball team is scuffling offensively, just about the last team the Braves would want to see is the Kingsford Flivvers.
Flivvers coach Dan Olkkonen’s team this year is fast, physical and aggressive — a squad that plays with the tenacity of a wolverine. And that was far too much for a young Gladstone contingent to contend with, as Kingsford thumped the Braves 51-20 in a Great Northern Conference game Thursday night at Kingsford High School.
It was the fourth game this season that Gladstone scored less than 25 points.
The UPSSA Division 1-3 third-ranked Flivvers held Gladstone scoreless over the first 6 1/2 minutes of the game and built an 11-0 lead by then. Kingsford’s 15-2 at the end of the first quarter grew to 29-7 at halftime and 41-12 at the end of three quarters before both coaches substituted en masse in the fourth.
“Our defensive pressure was really good,” Olkkonen said. “They’re a young team, and we got them to rush. They run a dribble-attack offense and try to take the ball to the basket, and we stepped into the lanes and our helpside defense was very good.”
Meanwhile, junior guard Nic Nora got the Flivvers’ offense going early with seven points in the opening quarter. Brody Kopp added a three-point play and a driving hoop as well.
In the second quarter, Cole Myllyla splashed back-to-back 3-pointers to extend the Kingsford led to 24-7 with 2:27 left in the half.
After three weeks without a game prior to Monday’s contest at Forest Park, the Flivvers looked menacing against the Braves as they extended their winning streak to four.
“We have athletes and so you can up your style of play,” Olkkonen said of his team’s aggressiveness. “But yet you have to be controlled. I have a veteran crew – two seniors and one junior who have been with me as starters for three years. I put pressure on them because you never want to get comfortable because it can all slip away quickly in the tournament when it’s one-and-done.
“So we’re hungry. Some of these guys have a month-and-a-half left of varsity basketball, so they are hungry,” the Kingsford coach added.
Gladstone (2-6, 0-2) does not have that type of experience, and it showed. The Flivvers (5-1, 1-1) sped up the Braves into some hectic decision-making, which turned into 19 turnovers and plenty of transition opportunities for Kingsford.
Kaden Gibbs and Payton Gingras led the Braves in scoring with five points each.
Nora led the Flivvers with 16 points, Myllyla contributed 12 and Kopp finished with 10.
Gladstone visits Gwinn (1-4) Tuesday, and next up for Kingsford is a road game at rival Iron Mountain (3-1) on Tuesday.