GLADSTONE — The Gladstone Braves girls basketball team ended its 2021-22 regular season on a high note as they defeated the Iron Mountain Mountaineers 53-47 Thursday night in Gladstone.
The game — in addition to being Senior Night — also served as a look ahead to Monday night as these two teams will meet again in the opening round of the MHSAA Division 3 District 66 Tournament.
For Braves coach Andy Cretens and his team, the win helped fulfill a goal to keep their momentum rolling into the postseason.
“I feel really good about getting the win,” Cretens said. “Our goal was to keep our momentum going into playoffs. Coming off the one win (against Kingsford), we wanted to get a two-game winning streak going into the playoffs and have our last game be a win going into playoffs. That was our main goal, so we’re pretty excited about that.”
Beginning the fourth quarter, the score sat 39-35 with Gladstone up. The Braves opened up the quarter with a 9 point run to extend their lead to 13 points, 48-35.
Tia Schone — who the Braves (8-12, 3-5 GNC) have utilized in the fourth quarter of varsity games under the fifth quarter rule — hit a double to start the run and was followed by shots, a two-point basket and two free throws, from Claire van Ginhoven and a triple from Victoria Hall
While the Mountaineers (7-13) battled back with shots from Annslee Runsat, Ashlyn Bal, Emma Ellis, Chloe Maycroft and Ellison Powell bringing them within six points of tying the game, savvy time management from the Braves ate up much of the remaining clock in the final minute or so of play.
With the playoff match-up looming just days away, Cretens and the Gladstone girls kept their cards close to their chest in the game.
“We had a lot of things we can feel good about in the game,” he said. “We were kind of vanilla today. Knowing we were going to play them Monday, in a few days, we didn’t really show them anything. We just ran our base offense and man-to-man defense the entire game. We didn’t show them anything we might do on Monday. So, it felt good to be able to do that and just get the win.”
Van Ginhoven led the Braves with 26 points, while Victoria Hall also hit double digits with 12. Aliana Martinez (8), Chloe Hanson (3), Tia Schone (2) and Sophia Rosa (2) also scored for the Braves.
For the Mountaineers, coach Karen Ellis noted a difference in energy levels from her team in the halves as a factor in the loss.
“For some reason, we were just kind of out of our element the first half not really bringing it up the court as quickly as I’d like and the passing, we weren’t just moving the ball as quick as what I’d like,” coach Ellis said. “The second half, especially in the fourth quarter, we started moving it around and kind of picked up speed and played a lot better basketball.”
Coach Ellis added the importance of getting a feel for playing in the Gladstone gym.
“I think it was important to come and get a feel for the rims and get a feel for how we’re going to be after the drive and everything,” she said. “So, we’ll make some changes before we come back on Monday.”
The Mountaineers had pretty even-keeled scoring across the board with Ashlyn Bal and Annslee Runsat leading the team with 10 points each. Emma Ellis (9), Chloe Maycroft (8), Ellison Powell (7) and Anja Kleiman (3) also contributed in the contest.
As it was senior night, the five Gladstone seniors — Claire van Ginhoven, Chloe Hanson, Jamisyn Bergeron, Victoria Hall and Sophia Rosa — as well as Iron Mountain’s sole senior Annslee Runsat were honored before the game.
The Braves and Mountaineers battle again Monday night in Gladstone in an MHSAA District 66 Tournament opener. The game begins 7 p.m. eastern.
Iron Mountain 11 7 17 12 — 47
Gladstone 8 18 13 14 — 53
Iron Mountain — Bal 10, Runsat 10, Ellis 9, Maycroft 8, Powell 7, Kleiman 3; FT: 17-24; Fouled out: None; 3-point field goals: Ellis 2.
Gladstone — van Ginhoven 26, Hall 12, Martinez 8, Hanson 3, Schone 2, Rosa 2; FT: 13-19; Fouled out: None; 3-point field goals: van Ginhoven 3, Hall 2, Martinez 2, Hanson.