Senior stand

Houghton’s seniors spark comeback win over Gladstone

Mike Mattson/ Escanaba Daily Press Houghton’s Sloane Zenner (23) looks for room along the baseline against Gladstone defenders Kaitlyn Hardwick (12) and Taylor Hunter (20) in Tuesday’s non-conference game. Zenner produced five points and 12 rebounds in the Gremlins’ 55-39 victory.

GLADSTONE — Veteran Houghton basketball coach Julie Filpus didn’t deliver a knockout halftime speech to her team at Gladstone Tuesday afternoon.

Instead, Filpus let her seniors do the talking.

“At halftime, we put it on our seniors,” Filpus said. “It was up to them to get us off in a much better direction in the third. In the first half, we were trying to do too much instead of letting things come.”

Houghton, which trailed 20-19 at halftime, started the third quarter with a pivotal 8-0 run and cruised to a 55-39 non-conference victory to remain unbeaten.

Gladstone (1-6) was thinking upset until Houghton outscored the Braves 20-7 in the third quarter.

“We competed hard,” Gladstone coach Eric Lundin said. “We had a hard time in the third quarter. We have to play 32 minutes in a game and tonight we played 26. We’ve had a hard time coming out of the half and tonight we couldn’t dig out.”

Houghton (6-0) relied on a balanced attack. Cara Monette and guard Tawna Ryynanen, who came off the bench, each scored 10 points to spark the Gremlins.

Madison Dillinger (eight points, six assists), Kara Pietila (eight points) Sloane Zenner (five points, 12 rebounds) and Harlee Froberg (five points, seven rebounds, four assists, four steals) also had key contributions for Houghton.

Leigha Woelffer led Gladstone with a game-high 14 points and five assists. Kaitlyn Hardwick (seven points) and Tasi Martinez (seven points) also stepped up for the Braves, who finished with 14 team assists.

Houghton took control in the third quarter by using its size, playing better defense and transition basketball.

“We didn’t get back on defense and their size hurt us in the third quarter,” Lundin said. “They posted up our guards. We have to do a better job with help-side defense.”

Houghton led 39-27 after three quarters and made 9 of 13 free throws in the fourth quarter. The Braves managed to cut the deficit to 44-39 on Alyssa Polley’s 3-pointer with 3:36 left, but could get no closer than nine points.

Overall, the Gremlins converted 20 of 30 free throws, while Gladstone made 8 of 17.

The Braves played a steady first half and led 10-8 after one quarter, with Woelffer’s basket in the final 30 seconds giving Gladstone its one-point halftime lead.

Gladstone had 18 turnovers and made 15 of 57 shots from the field for 26 percent. Houghton committed 16 turnovers and converted 17 of 47 shots from the field for 36 percent.

Filpus said her team’s slow start could not be blamed on a long bus ride from Houghton.

“Our kids know we have to travel,” Filpus said. “We expect more in a start than what they showed us this afternoon. One thing Gladstone did was their dribble penetration. Our kids were picking up fouls.

“This was a district opponent,” Filpus added. “It certainly wasn’t our A game. We come out of this gym knowing things we have to work on.”

Gladstone, which lost the jayvee game 50-33, returns to action Jan. 3 at Stephenson.

“We showed some signs that late in the year we can be dangerous,” Lundin said. “It’s probably the biggest team in the U.P. and they are big and talented.”

Houghton hosts Lake Linden-Hubbell on Jan. 6.

Houghton 8 11 20 16 — 55

Gladstone 10 10 7 12 — 39

Houghton — Dillinger 8, Ryynanen 10, Zenner 5, C. Monette 10, K. Monette 4, Colling 5, Froberg 5, Pietila 8. FT: 20-30; F: 20; Fouled out: none; 3-point field goals: Ryynanen 1.

Gladstone — Polley 3, Ahlgren 4, Hardwick 7, Hunter 4, Woelffer 14, Martinez 7. FT: 8-17; F: 22; Fouled out: Hardwick, Hunter. 3-point field goals: Polley 1.