GLADSTONE - The Gladstone girls still have a long way to go, but at times during Friday night's 43-37 victory over Gwinn, they showed flashes of potential.
Alexis St. Cyr displayed her athleticism in leading the Braves in scoring for the second game in this early season and the Gladstone defense confounded the Modeltowners at times, creating turnovers at key moments and getting 10 steals.
"Our defense was real good at times tonight. The girls took a gamble at times, but you'll have that," Braves coach Karl Dollhopf said.
Gwinn's Kylee Arnsparger, left, drives to the basket as Alison Austin of Gladstone defends Friday on the Braves’ home court. (Escanaba Daily Press photo by Keith Shelton)
It was another night of hot and cold for the young Braves - Dollhopf started one senior, two juniors and two sophomores, but as a credit to their competitiveness, the team didn't falter even when Gwinn took the lead early in the fourth quarter.
Fortunately for Gladstone, Gwinn also went on some lengthy dry spells.
Four minutes into the third quarter, five points between the two teams were scored and Gladstone held a 27-21 advantage.
Gwinn was able to throw Gladstone off its fast-paced game at times with physical play as players like Ellie Olsen and Kaylee Arnsparger drove inside and drew plenty of fouls.
St. Cyr led Gladstone with 15 points and three steals. Lexi Hongisto had nine points, five rebounds and six blocks.
The Modeltowners, playing without Morgan Bruce, Paige Vincent and Shelby Talsma due to injury, trailed 25-18 at halftime and kept it close the rest of the way. In the third quarter, they suddenly got hot shooting as they began raining triples to get back in it.
Jordyn Hutchens, Olsen and Lydia Asplund each hit one and Gwinn pulled within 31-27 going into the fourth quarter.
"We've got some shooters," Modeltowners coach Ben Olsen said. "When they're open, I tell the girls I want the first open shot. They did a good job tonight of making them. We didn't make them very much against Ishpeming, so it was nice to see some of those shots fall."
Gwinn was led by Olsen's 13 points and two steals. Arnsparger had five points and eight rebounds and Hutchens scored nine points.
Another triple from Olsen early in the fourth quarter brought the score to 31-30 and Gwinn took the lead for the first time since leading 3-0 at the start of the game on a jumper from Hutchens.
Gladstone however answered right back on a layup from Hongisto and the Braves never looked back.
"It was a close game and we're getting there," Ben Olsen said. "We're coming off a game against Ishpeming where they pressed us the whole night and caused 29 turnovers. We focused on handling pressure and taking care of the ball. So I'm glad they kind of pressured us tonight because we were able to use what we had learned in practice.
"I thought we did a great job tonight of handling pressure. We just have to take it one more step and try to get baskets off the press."
Gladstone also won the JV game, 66-33.
Both teams resume Tuesday night with Gladstone hosting Marquette and Gwinn traveling to Bark River-Harris.