Marquette ‘trees’ block out Ishpeming’s chances

ISHPEMING – You can’t coach height.

That’s a phrase many top-notch basketball coaches are fond of, and Marquette Senior High School used that adage to help it take a 71-48 victory over Ishpeming in a game played in the Hematites’ gym on Tuesday night.

At 6-foot-1, the shortest MSHS starter – junior Brad Brow – matched the height of the tallest Ishpeming player available with 6-2 junior Alex Briones out indefinitely with a broken bone in his foot.

The Redmen were more than just trees blocking out the sunlight, however. Their speed, as part of a pressing defense, was also too much for Ishpeming to handle.

“With the three guards we have, I didn’t anticipate the number of turnovers we made because of their press,” Ishpeming coach John Tiziani said of a 22-turnover night.

“We’re going to have to learn how to deal with that sustained pressure. We’re definitely going to see that kind of halfcourt and full-court pressure from (Thursday’s opponent) Gwinn.

“We knew they were going to be taller than us, and we did struggle some with their height inside.”

Though the Hematites managed to get outrebounded by just one, 31-30, due to some rugged play going for loose balls, Marquette was able to set up a number of lobs inside to two of its “redwoods” – 6-7 A.J. Grazulis and 6-6 Mark Pap.

“I saw early in the game that they were trying to take away A.J. and Mark, so we had to do some ball reversals in order to free them up,” MSHS coach Brad Nelson said.

Pap finished with 14 points and Grazulis nine.

While Nelson was working on his adjustments, Marquette’s 6-3 sophomore guard/forward Connor Brazeau lit up the scoreboard, putting in 13 of his game-high 19 points in the first half.

He was instrumental in the Redmen’s 18-0 run in the final 3 minutes of the first quarter, which turned a 7-5 deficit into an insurmountable 23-7 lead.

“We got some easy baskets off the press,” said MSHS junior Larry Burnette, who finished with 16 points and a team-high 10 rebounds.

“The ball pressure up top really seemed to work for us.”

Ishpeming played even in the second quarter to trail 41-26 at halftime, then Marquette pulled away and took a 56-34 advantage heading into the final period.

Senior Cody Kugler paced Ishpeming with 15 points – all in the first half – and nine rebounds, while junior Derek DeCaire added 13 points and senior Joe Lyle 11 points and a game-high 11 rebounds.

The Hematites won the JV game, 43-30.

Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 246.