Boys basketball: Kingsford sinks Houghton in opener
HOUGHTON — For a half, Houghton’s Brad Sirard and George Butvilas utilized their athleticism and strength to beat a Kingsford defense for 20 of Houghton’s 24 first-half points, proving in the process that they’re two of the best in the Copper Country at creating their own offense.
But Dan Olkkonen and his deeper and bigger Flivvers team didn’t let that continue.
Junior Luke Terrian led the way with 25 points and Kingsford held Houghton’s top two scorers to just nine points in the second half and ran away with a 59-42 nonconference victory Monday in Houghton.
“I really credit our second-half defense,” Olkkonen said. “Liam Gayan and Andrew Mann, their job was to just stop penetration of Butvilas and Sirard. We switched a little more and either forced them to shoot from further back. On the drive, we had a double or triple-team wall in there because they like to put their head down and go.”
Sirard, a sophomore, finished with 18 points and nine rebounds, while Butvilas, a junior, had 11 points. In the first half, the two combined to shoot 7 of 12 at the line as their ability to attack the basket drew fouls.
But the two were just 3 of 4, total, at the line in the second half as the big bodies of the 6-foot-5, 300-pound Gayan and 6-foot, 235-pound Mann consistently helped to stop penetration whenever Butvilas or Sirard stepped inside the 3-point line.
With those two limited, Houghton shot just 5 of 16 in the second half and had nine turnovers. For the game, the Gremlins were 11 of 33 (33 percent) and had 20 miscues.
“We talked at halftime how (Kingsford) was going to continue to sag deep into the middle and take away drives, so be ready for the kick-outs,” Houghton coach Jared Lawson said. “We started to get a little stagnant in the second half, and I thought that was tired legs and a lack of movement. We did a lot more pounding of the ball, and when you do that, you’re not going to get the looks you want.”
Kingsford had its own share of offensive issues early on.
Following two free throws by Terrian to give the Flivvers a 21-14 lead with 6:01 left in the second quarter, Lawson called timeout and had his team switch from a man-to-man defense to a 2-3 zone. Kingsford turned it over 10 times and shot just 1 for 6 the rest of the half as Houghton closed on a 10-3 run to even the game at 24.
But Houghton’s inability to take care of the ball and get good shots allowed Kingsford to get out in transition for easy baskets. The Flivvers converted 14 of 24 shot attempts in the second half, and following a 3 from Butvilas, went on a 12-0 run to take a 38-27 lead.
Before the teams emptied their benches, the Flivvers had just three turnovers in the second half.
“You could see Kingsford starting to make their shots from the outside, which started to stretch us out more,” Lawson said. “But again, I thought I saw our hands go down more, our closeouts weren’t where they needed to be, and those are things we’ll have to clean up as we go along.”
Terrian scored 16 of his 25 points in the second half, going 7 of 9 from the field, including a perfect 5 for 5 in the third quarter. His 3 from the right wing at the buzzer on an assist from Nate Rutter gave the Flivvers a 43-33 lead. Despite just a 10-point advantage, the outcome felt no longer in doubt with the Gremlins struggling to score.
“He’s a tough-nosed kid and really has a talent for scoring,” Olkkonen said of Terrian. “Not only from the 3-pointer, but he did mid-range jumpers and did transition and can finish at the basket. We actually have him playing at the inside position, so it’s nice to have a four-man who can jump out and knock down a couple 3s a game.”
Chase Kreski finished with 15 points (6 of 8) and likely wouldn’t mind if Kingsford played all of its games in Houghton’s gym. In last season’s district contest in Houghton, Kreski scored 19 in his team’s 63-55 win over the Gremlins.
“He really stepped up from that game,” Olkkonen said. “For him to step up as a senior and guard a guy like Sirard and still knock down shots, I’m really happy for Chase.”
Next, Houghton hosts L’Anse on Thursday for a West-PAC matchup.
Kingsford 13 11 19 16 — 59
Houghton 12 12 9 9 — 42
KINGSFORD (59): Kreski 15, LaVarnway 1, Rutter 2, Terrian 25, Beauchamp 7, Mann 3, Swanson 4, Gayen 2. F: 18. FT: 8-16; FG: 22-49; 3PT: 7-17 (Kreski 3, Terrian 2, Beauchamp, Mann 1).
HOUGHTON (42): Keskimaki 3, Butvilas 11, Majlessi 4, Sirard 18, Cleary 3, Cooper 3. F: 12. FT: 13-23. FG: 11-33. 3PT: 7-19: Sirard 3, Cleary 1, Cooper 1.