Confident Flivvers eliminate Gremlins from ‘B’ bracket

KINGSFORD – Kingsford’s confidence is soaring and its season continuing.

The Flivvers, ignited by the 3-point shooting of Dan Harrington and Lucas Jennings, pulled away from Houghton in the fourth quarter and won a Class B District 64 opener 61-52 Monday evening at the Flivver Gymnasium.

Kingsford (7-11) travels to face Menominee in a district semifinal Wednesday.

“You’re always happy when you can play another game in March,” Flivvers head coach Dan Olkkonen said. “It’s just fun. We’ve been waiting a long time to feel like this when we’re playing.”

Just a three-point game after three quarters, Harrington canned an early fourth-quarter trey that helped Kingsford open a seven-point lead. Then Jennings caught fire midway through the quarter, pumping in three triples in a row.

Houghton’s Trent Keteri answered two of those, but after Jennings’ third, the Flivvers led 50-36. Houghton, despite a heroic finish by Keteri, couldn’t close the gap.

Harrington finished with a team-best 18 points. Jennings scored 15, and Jack Glodowski went for another 15 along with a team-high 18 rebounds.

Keteri turned into a machine late in the game, ripping another three treys late. He put in five 3-pointers and 17 of his game-high 24 points in the final frame. Kingsford led 58-40 with about a minute and half to go before Keteri erupted for his final three long balls, but all it did was keep the final score from looking like a rout.

The problem for Houghton (13-7) was finding consistent rhythm earlier in the game. A two-point second quarter allowed Kingsford to head to halftime with a nine-point cushion.

“Throughout the year, our shooting has been kind of off at times,” Houghton head coach Jared Lawson said. “It’s been the story of our year, and tonight it came back and got us.

“Credit goes to Kingsford. They played outstanding defense, but we just didn’t make the shots when we had open looks.”

Houghton came out aggressive to start against the Flivvers. Kingsford struggled with the pressure early in the game but controlled the ball much better by the second quarter.

“It’s kind of the way we play,” Lawson said. “We wanted to get some traps, try to create some quick opportunities. They did a good job of handling the ball and handling the pressure.”

The aggressive play didn’t come without its casualties, as Ben Collaer racked up four first-quarter fouls and was gone by the opening of the third quarter. Eero Niemela, second in scoring for the Gremlins with 15 points, fouled out in the fourth.

“I thought we did extremely well taking care of the ball from the second quarter on,” Olkkonen said. “That trap is a more unique defense than we’ve seen. But I think it wore them down a little.”

Kingsford’s halftime cushion shrunk a bit in the third quarter, but Harrington’s three to open the fourth kickstarted an 11-0 Flivver run. Houghton didn’t score in the fourth until Keteri buried his first three with 5:10 to play.

“The kids just did a great job,” Olkkonen said. “They did a great job defending. I’m proud of them for getting out there and doing the simple stuff.”

Free throw shooting was another positive for the Flivvers Monday. Kingsford was 25-of-33 at the line. Chris Roell was big at the line in the fourth, making 5-of-6. And Glodowski hit 9-of-10 from the stripe in the game.