By BURT ANGELI
KINGSFORD - Kingsford, boosted by stronger defense and better ball handling, turned back Gladstone 62-57 in Great Northern Conference boys basketball Friday.
Theresa Peterson/The Daily News Photo
Kingsford’s Cole Michaud (35) looks for a way past Gladstone’s Jared Vuksan (50) and Max Mahoney (44) in Friday’s Great Northern Conference basketball game.
The Flivvers yielded 22 points to the hot-shooting Braves in the first six minutes. But the Kingsford man-to-man defense stiffened the rest of the way.
"Teams put you in certain situations and you wonder how you will respond," said coach Dan Olkkonen, pleased with the way his Flivvers recovered offensively and defensively after trailing 22-16. "Gladstone really drove it down our throats and played a defense (1-2-2) we had never seen before."
Caleb Harrington clicked for 19 Flivver points and his younger brother, sophomore Daniel, added 17. They each hit three treys in the first half.
"Having Caleb at the point was fantastic," Olkkonen said. " I think we held in the first half by hitting those six threes."
Aidan Wienke tacked on 14 points for the Flivvers.
The balanced Braves produced four in double-figure scoring - Michael Cretens, 17; Jared Hunter, 13; Jared Vuksan, 11, and Blake Ballard, 10 with seven steals and six assists.
"We played with a lot of intensity on the defensive end," Gladstone Coach Phil Griebel said. "We just had a couple lapses where we didn't score. We just have to get better at converting."
Gladstone went through six two-plus minute scoreless stretches during the game.
Blake Ballard wrapped up the first half with back-to-back threes to give Gladstone a 33-28 advantage.
Kingsford, which reduced its turnover total from 11 to four in the second half, pulled ahead 45-43 late in the third quarter. Gladstone had just nine turnovers for the game.
The Flivvers launched the fourth quarter with five straight points from Cole Michaud and Caleb Harrington to lead 50-43. The Braves closed to within three points on three occasions in the final stanza including 60-57 with 23 seconds to go after three Cretens' free throws.
The Harrington brothers then converted free throws to ice the contest. Kingsford converted 10 of 14 free throws in the final two minutes.
"I was proud of the defensive adjustment the kids made in the second half and taking care of the ball," Olkkonen said. "We had to get to the free throw line. We focused on getting into an attack mode a little more in the second half."
Kingsford, which clipped Gladstone 64-34 last month, will host the Braves in a Class B district tourney opener.
"I'm proud of our effort but I'm getting tired of saying it (after a loss)," Griebel said. "We got killed at our place and we were not having that happen again. I know we'll be ready come March when we play them again."
On Tuesday, Kingsford (10-3 overall, 4-2 GNC) invades Iron Mountain and Gladstone (6-8, 1-4) hosts Negaunee.
Gladstone's jayvees, 67-62, and Kingsford's freshmen, 60-41, prevailed in the preliminaries. Joe Hofer, 19 points; Chase Wilkinson, 15, and Tyler Roberts, 14, paced the Flivver junior varsity. Ben Moreau meshed 15 points for the Flivver frosh while Dylan DalSanto and Brady Hicks had 11 each.
Gladstone 22 11 10 14 - 57
Kingsford 16 12 17 17 - 62
GLADSTONE: R. Ballard 3, Kleiman 3, Cretens 17, B. Ballard 10, Hunter 13, Vuksan 11. FT: 10-16. F: 21.
KINGSFORD: D. Harrington 17, Jennings 4, C. Harrington 19, Allen 3, Wienke 14, Michaud 5. FT: 14-23. F: 14.
3-point FG: D. Harrington 4, C. Harrington 3, Allen, R. Ballard, Cretens 4, B. Ballard 2. FG shooting: Kingsford 20-46, Gladstone 20-49. Rebounding: Kingsford 30 (Wienke 9, C. Harrington 7), Gladstone 23 (Vuksan 7)