GAYLORD - The Traverse City St. Francis Gladiators raced out to an early lead, and never looked back from there, as they earned a 72-47 Division 3 Quarterfinal victory over St. Ignace on Tuesday night.
With the win, the Gladiators will get to play in the state semifinals at the Breslin Center in East Lansing for the first time since they finished as State Runners-Up in 2012.
St. Francis used a pair of big scoring runs in the first quarter to take a 24-12 lead after just eight minutes of play. The lead would grow to 41-23 at halftime.
A big key to Gladiators’ success was on the defensive end, where they were able to hold the Saints’ high-powered offense at bay. St. Ignace came into the Quarterfinal averaging just under 70 points per game in the past month.
“That’s a good team and they’re here for a reason. And the boys, just an amazing defensive effort. Handled their pressure very well,” St. Francis Head Coach Sean Finnegan said after the game. “They were scrappy. They played hard and, you know, we executed and finished when we needed to and even had a couple of exclamation points there at the end.”
The exclamation points were a pair of dunks by Drew Breimayer in the fourth quarter. He had 17 points for the Gladiators on the night. St. Francis’s Wyatt Nausadis led all scorers with 26, including 18 in the first half. Joey Donahue chipped in 14 for the Gladiators, and John Hagelstein added 10 points.
The Saints were led by Tyrel Matson with 15 points. Ethan McLean added 14 points, and Johnathan Ingalls had 11. St. Ignace ends their season with a 22-5 record.
Traverse City St. Francis (23-4) will now face Niles Brandywine in a Division 3 State Semifinal at the Breslin Center at Michigan State University on Thursday at