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No. 5 Gladstone gals defeat Mountaineers

GLADSTONE — Lillie Johnson came to Gladstone’s rescue here Thursday night as it hung on for a 41-35 girls’ basketball triumph over Iron Mountain.

The sophomore forward scored 28 points, including a pair of free throws with 15.3 seconds remaining in this Mid-Peninsula Conference contest.

“We were struggling with the little things,” Braves’ coach Andy Cretens said. “We didn’t execute well on offense or defense. Teams are doing what we’re expecting them to do and we’re letting them do those things. We’re expecting Lillie to do everything and the other girls are playing too passive.”

The Braves led 31-22 following a pair of gifters by freshman Eva Pankonien early in the fourth quarter.

Iron Mountain answered with a 7-1 run, shaving its deficit to 32-29 on a steal and layup by junior forward Macy Linsenbigler with three minutes, 50 seconds left in the contest.

“We were trying to stop Lillie from driving,” Mountaineers’ coach Karen Ellis said. “We were able to slow her down, but she’s still an excellent player. She was able to drive quite a bit. Our goal was to take away her 3-point shots and she only hit one. I was real happy with the way we were playing tonight.”

Johnson put the Braves (13-7 overall, 6-4 M-PC) up by five points with a pair of free throws 10 seconds later.

A layup by Linsenbigler, however, brought the Mountaineers within 36-33 with less than 3½ minutes left to play.

Iron Mountain (6-15 overall, 3-9 league) was still within 38-35 with 57 seconds remaining when freshman Alysia Wood split a pair of gifters.

Gladstone increased its lead to four on a free throw by freshman forward Adele Ostlund with 19 seconds left, setting the stage for Johnson’s game-clinching gifters.

The Braves struggled against Iron Mountain 2-1-2 zone defense and trailed 9-8 after the first quarter.

Gladstone trailed 14-11 before a lay-in by Johnson made it 14-13.

A jumper from the boulevard by sophomore guard Addy Blowers gave the Braves a 15-14 lead and Johnson converted an offensive rebound into a layup to make it 17-14 at halftime.

Pankonien sank a layup to put Gladstone up 29-19 late in the third frame before a 3-point play by junior guard Bella Pickett brought the Mountaineers within seven points going into the fourth.

“We weren’t able to move the ball around as much as we liked, although I thought our point guard (junior Gerilis Sampoll-Torres) did a good job controlling the tempo,” Ellis said. “She’s a real good ballhandler. It could have been anybody’s game, but we missed a few shots in the third quarter. Overall, our rebounding was pretty good. We emphasize boxing out.”

Linsenbigler scored 23 points for the Mountaineers, who turned the ball over 17 times. The Braves had 13 miscues.

Both teams resume Tuesday with the Braves traveling to Gwinn and the Mountaineers hosting Calumet.

The Braves are without senior guard Tia Schone, who will undergo knee surgery and miss the remainder of the season.

“Tia does a lot of things for us,” Cretens said. “We miss her hustle and leadership. Lillie did almost all our scoring in the last few weeks. We have a lot of work to do.”

Iron Mountain 9 5 8 13 — 35

Gladstone 8 9 12 12 — 41

Iron Mountain — Pickett 3, Copley 4, Bal 3, Wood 2, Linsenbigler 23. FT: 8-16; F: 11; Fouled out: None; 3-point field goal: Bal.

Gladstone — Blowers 2, Hanson 5, Pankonien 5, Ostlund 1, Johnson 28. FT: 8-10; F: 18; Fouled out: Hanson, Wetthuhn; 3-point field goals: Hanson, Pankonien, Johnson.

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