Redmen’s Grazulis, Pap dominate in 60-31 win over Westwood

MARQUETTE – Westwood knew it faced a mighty challenge playing at Marquette Senior High School on Tuesday night.

The Patriots not only were winless this season, but were playing the Upper Peninsula’s No. 1 team as selected throughout this month by the U.P. Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association.

The Redmen (10-1) showed why they deserve that rating in taking a 60-31 victory.

Westwood (0-10) didn’t have an answer for Marquette’s two senior big men – 6-foot-7 A.J. Grazulis and 6-6 Mark Pap – but also struggled at times with the Redmen’s defensive pressure.

Grazulis recorded game highs of 17 points and 15 rebounds, while Pap, who said he felt ill earlier in the day, was close behind with 16 points and 13 rebounds.

By themselves, the pair outscored the Pats by two points and also outrebounded them by double digits, 28-18.

“They’re No. 1 for a reason,” WHS coach Ryan Reichel said. “We had nothing to lose. They’re a well coached team and they play well together.

“I wouldn’t mind playing them and (U.P. No. 2) Negaunee 20 times a year. It gets you ready for what you’re going to see come tournament time.”

The MSHS “twin towers” were especially frustrating for a Patriots team with just two players over 6-1, one of them being lanky 6-3 junior guard Luke Woods. That left the Patriots’ best inside matchup as 6-4 senior Travis Swanson.

The opening tip was indicative of Westwood’s disadvantage, as Reichel put 5-7 freshman guard Luke Gray in the circle to face the 6-7 Grazulis, who did his job in tapping it to a teammate.

“We tried to slow down one of them, but then the other gets going,” Reichel said about Grazulis and Pap. “I felt like we had a good game plan with our zone (defense), and I thought we did a good job against their guards.”

That was true by the end of the game, but Marquette controlled all the action at the start, building a 23-4 lead two minutes into the second quarter.

“We started out really well,” MSHS coach Brad Nelson said. “We knew they were going to put the zone up, and the best way to beat it isn’t shooting 3s, but getting the ball inside. Then if you want to shoot the 3, you can kick it outside.

“We’re not where we need to be as far as our caliber of basketball for the districts (tournament). We had a chance to put this game away, but we let them hang around for awhile.”

Due to Marquette’s pressure and double- and triple-teaming of the man with the ball, Westwood probably didn’t get a shot off in a majority of its possessions in the game’s first four or five minutes.

At the other end, the Redmen launched a number of 3-pointers, none of which fell, but many that became MSHS rebounds.

“We’re fortunate we’ve got two guys who have great hands and can clean up the boards,” Nelson said as his team finished with 46 rebounds.

“We’ve just got to be more patient when we have the ball,” said Marquette junior point guard Andy Nyquist, who finished with seven points.

After the quick start, two of the Patriots’ four Lukes – Woods and fellow junior Luke Duquette – provided an offensive spark in the second quarter that seemed to settle down their team. Woods finished as Westwood’s top scorer with 13 points.

In a two-minute span in the middle of the second, Duquette banked in a shot from a congested lane, swished a triple from the left side and hit a short fadeaway jumper to pull his team within 25-11.

Then in the minute before and after halftime, Woods floated a shot in the lane over a double team, made a 3 from the left side and hit a short jumper to make it 33-20. The Patriots never got closer.

The lead stretched to 46-26 by the end of the third and MSHS kept Westwood from scoring for the game’s final five minutes.

Marquette also won the JV game, 43-40.

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