KINGSFORD - Kingsford, unable to match-up against 6-foot-7 A.J. Grazulis, fell behind early and could never completely recover in a 60-49 Great Northern Conference boys basketball loss to Marquette on Thursday evening.
"I'm proud of the way they came out and fought in the second half," Kingsford head coach Dan Olkkonen said. "You've got to give credit to Marquette. They have players. It's hard to teach 6-7."
Grazulis scored 15 points in the first half, as the Redmen opened a 12-point halftime lead. He finished with 19 points and a game-best 11 rebounds.
"We've been after him to get a little more aggressive on the glass," Marquette coach Brad Nelson said. "He's a beast, a big kid. That's the type of play we need from him."
Kingsford's deficit grew to 16 points early in the second half, but the Flivvers adjusted defensively and worked it back down to a six-point game as Caleb Harrington got hot.
Harrington poured in 16 of his game-high 21 after about the midway point of the third quarter.
A 13-3 run through the meat of a physical third quarter had the Flivvers back in the game. Aidan Wienke, who scored 15, nailed a triple to make it 41-35 Redmen with three minutes to go in the frame. Consecutive threes by Brad Brow quickly spoiled that effort, however.
"(Wienke's) being doing that all year long," Nelson said. "That's his M.O. Every game in clutch situations when we need a shot, he's the one that comes up and makes it. And that takes a lot of guts."
"That's what happens when you play a good team," Olkkonen said. "You can't be too upset. They beat us. It wasn't for a lack of effort out there.
"They have a lot of talent. Hats off to them. They had a good gameplan they forced us into some spots with turnovers."
Kingsford threatened again late as Harrington drilled a 3-pointer and produced an 8-0 run of his own to make it 56-49 Marquette with about a minute and half to play.
Harrington fired another trey over two defenders to try to make it a four-point game, but the shot rimmed out. The Redmen made good on their free throws the rest of the way with Andrew Nyquist and Larry Burnette each burying a pair.
Marquette, after a slow start at the line, finished 20-of-28 at the stripe.
"We knew we were coming to play a quality team," Nelson said. "I was happy with the way my team responded after Kingsford cut it to six points. My kids were able to weather the storm, especially being on the road."
Marquette improved to 9-1, 4-0 in league play. Mark Pap added 10 points, and Nyquist finished with nine.
"Kingsford is always a thorn in our side," Nelson said. "To come down and win, and it was a hard win. We'll take it. I like where we're at, but we still have a lot to do to get better."
Kingsford slipped to 7-3 (2-2).
"This was a good test for us," Olkkonen said. "That's what we like."
Marquette won the JV game 56-49, while Kingsford prevailed in freshmen action 51-27.