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Boys basketball: Marquette opens new year with 67-49 win over Flivvers

MARQUETTE — Whenever a team goes on holiday break, coaches sometimes worry their team is rusty the first game back.

Whatever concerns Marquette boys basketball head coach Brad Nelson had disappeared quickly as the Redmen used their inside game to take an early lead and never looked in a 67-49 Great Northern Conference win Thursday over Kingsford.

“The motivation this year was the fact that they came into our gym last year and knocked us off,” Nelson said. “We weren’t really ready for them. I know Kingsford and I know (coach) Dan (Olkkonen) very well and I know that they’re going to be ready to play and play hard every single time. If you don’t match that intensity, they’ll knock you off. So I thought that got through to them. For some reason in the second half, we kind of backed off a little bit, but I’m pretty happy with the effort.”

Marquette’s Marius Grazulis and Bryce Brazeau were especially effective in the paint as Grazulis dropped in 27 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, while Brazeau drove the lane with ease on his way to a 16-point night.

Tyler Beauchamp led Kingsford (3-4) with 18 points, while Luke Terrian had 14.

“It’s one of those things that if you can establish in the paint, then other things open up,” Nelson said. “We didn’t shoot well tonight from the 3-point line, but you’re going to have nights like that.

“We were able to get some good high quality, high-percentage looks to Marius, and Bryce did a great job getting into the lane. He’s doing a better job of that this year and that’s what a point guard needs to do.

The Redmen (7-2) opened the game with three straight buckets, two of them from Grazulis off feeds from Brazeau. Later in the first quarter, John Thomson hit a trey and back-to-back buckets from him and Grazulis padded Marquette’s lead to 15-7. The Redmen took a 17-9 lead into the second quarter.

Marquette continued to have its way inside in the second, with a 9-0 run, three buckets from Brazeau. Grazulis closed out the first half with a layup and the Redmen led 34-15 at halftime.

Kingsford (3-4) started to generate some offense in the third quarter. Terrian put in a layup and Beauchamp followed that with a triple and the Flivvers cut their deficit to 14 at 36-22.

However, the Redmen answered back with three straight buckets, two of them from Grazulis, to go up by 20 points. Marquette closed out the third with a buzzer-beating trey from Drew Wyble and took a 51-31 advantage into the fourth.

The Flivvers started to work the ball in the paint in the fourth quarter as Andrew Mann scored eight of his 11 points in the frame, but it was too little, too late for Kingsford.

“We knew that we could go out and play with these guys,” Olkkonen said. “We just didn’t do a good job of adjusting. That’s all what it came down to. There were too many times where we didn’t help out on the inside, or let Grazulis get two on us.

“I’ve played against a lot of big guys in my lifetime, but until you get out there and play against him, you don’t realize how big he is. We’re only 6-1 and 6-2, the guys guarding him, and his reach is such an important thing. I think we did a really nice job with our post players getting inside and we were able to score on him. We’ve just got to realize that he’s 6-10 all the time and it’s every single play.

“We had our moments, but I don’t think we played good enough at times defensively with our adjustments.”

Kingsford 9 6 16 18 — 49

Marquette 17 17 17 16 — 67

Summary (field goals, free throws, total points)

KINGSFORD (49): Beauchamp 7-0-18; Terrian 6-2-14; Mann 3-5-11; Galeazzi 2-0-4; Kopp 1-0-2. Totals 19-7-49.

MARQUETTE (67): Darr 1-1-3; Brazeau 7-2-16; Martysz 1-0-2; Wyble 2-0-5; Thomson 6-1-14; Grazulis 13-1-27. Totals. 30-5-67.

FG: Kingsford unavailable; Marquette 30 of 59 (50.9 percent); FT: Kingsford 7 of 9 (77.8 percent); Marquette 5 of 6 (83.3 percent); Rebounds: Kingsford 22 (Luke Terrian 8); Marquette 31 (Marius Grazulis 13).

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