Houghton holds for big upset
HOUGHTON – Houghton might have lost games at Westwood and Calumet at the buzzer in the past week, but stealing a win in the Gremlins’ home gym is another thing entirely.
The Gremlins got the stop they needed at the end Thursday to upset Marquette, the U.P.’s No. 2-ranked team in Class ABC, 47-46 in both teams’ regular season finales.
Houghton coach Jared Lawson said, after a buzzerbeating loss at Calumet Tuesday that allowed West Iron County to share the WestPAC championship, he told his squad to refocus for Thursday.
“One thing we don’t do at this school is we don’t lay down for anyone. We need to play every game, no matter what, the last game or the first game. That’s kind of what you want to do is carry that momentum, that effort, into districts,” he said.
Houghton kept itself in the game against the much bigger visitors by making 10 three-pointers and using a zone defense to limit opportunities for Mark Pap and A.J. Grazulis inside as much as possible.
“It’s no magical formula, it’s just a matter of we didn’t have enough possessions in the game. When a team plays a zone like that and they shoot the way they do, you can’t play possession for possession. That’s what we did tonight and we came out on the losing end,” Marquette coach Brad Nelson said.
Pap scored down low to give Marquette the lead with 54 seconds left, only for Houghton point guard Ryan LaBerge to barrel down the lane for a tough two and the lead with 34 seconds to go. Zack Ohtonen missed the front end of a one-and-one to set Marquette up in its own end with 10.2 seconds left.
Houghton contested in the backcourt to prevent Marquette from setting up, leading to a contested 12-foot jumper from the right corner by Andrew Nyquist in the dying seconds. It fell well short and Marquette couldn’t get a putback up in time.
Senior Cody Goodreau stepped out to challenge Nyquist’s final effort.
“I didn’t want to go out too far on him because I figured they’d dump it down to the big guy because they have the size advantage on us, so I just tried to throw in some foot fakes and he committed so I was able to jump out at it,” he said.
It was a night to remember for the senior and his four classmates on the roster, who walked off the home floor for the last game night having gone 10-0 at home in their final season.
“It’s not something I brought up to the guys but I knew they were talking about it,” Lawson said. “When you have kids like that who take a sense of pride, you don’t have to do much as a coach in terms of motivating them. They know what’s at stake and they really delivered tonight in terms of their play here on their home floor and it’s something they take a lot of pride in. I’m proud of them, what they did tonight.”
Though Marquette held an early 15-6 lead, Houghton kept itself close with the three, taking narrow leads late in both the second and third quarters before Marquette countered both times. Goodreau made two of the Gremlins’ 10 triples, while junior Trent Keteri hit five and freshman Justin Ruotsala had three.
On the other end, Pap (17 points) and Grazulis (11) did their damage two points at a time, but Marquette was 3-for-16 from outside the arc.
“Our job was to keep them from penetrating, keep the ball on the outside and make them take the tougher shots,” Goodreau said.
Houghton, which finishes the regular season 12-7, plays rival Hancock in the second of two Class C district semifinals Wednesday night at L’Anse.
“It’s just great to beat a team like this and get some confidence going into districts,” Goodreau said.
Marquette (16-3) enters Class A district tournament play at home Monday vs. Petoskey.