Tawas pulls away in 2nd half, defeats Grayling 76-59 in playoff game
Caleb Casey | Managing Editor
The Grayling Vikings had a lead at halftime of Monday night’s playoff game – a round one District 62-B boys basketball contest played at Ogemaw Heights High School vs. the Tawas Braves – but they were not able to maintain it in the second half, and the Vikings fell to the Braves by a final score of 76-59, ending Grayling’s 2017-2018 season.
The Vikings trailed 6-2 early in the game. Grayling scored its two points with two free throws from Christian Artress. Tawas scored its six with two three-pointers.
Grayling scored nine unanswered points with a three-pointer by Artress, an inside shot by Nick Hunter, one free throw from Hunter, and a three-pointer by Ryan Anderson.
The Braves hit a three-pointer at the first quarter buzzer.
Going into the second period, Grayling led 11-10.
Justin Nicholas hit a jump shot for the Vikings early in the second quarter. Tawas scored on a lay-up. Nicholas scored for GHS on a drive to the basket. The Braves, after scoring on an inside shot and a put-back, led 16-15 with 4:15 left in the first half.
Anderson hit a three-pointer for the Vikings. Tawas scored on a drive. Artress connected on a shot from beyond the arc. Hunter made one of two from the free throw line. At the 1:12 mark, Artress converted on another three-pointer. The Braves hit a triple in the final seconds of the period.
The score at halftime was Grayling 25, Tawas 22.
The Braves opened the third quarter with a 14-2 run, giving Tawas a 36-27 advantage with 5:17 left in the third period.
Nicholas, fouled on a three-point attempt, hit all three shots from the line. At the 3:58 mark, Nicholas hit a three-point basket, cutting the Braves’ lead to three, 36-33.
Tawas responded with a three-pointer. The Braves hit two free throws. Trey Moffit made a three-pointer with 49 seconds left in the third quarter. In the final seconds of the third period, Tawas scored three points with an inside shot and one free throw.
The Braves led by 10, 46-36, going into the final eight minutes of regulation.
The Vikings were not able to get any closer than 10 throughout the fourth quarter. Tawas extended its lead to as many as 20 during the last eight minutes of the game.
Grayling scored 23 points in the fourth period. Highlights for the Vikings down the stretch included a three-pointer by Artress, four free throws from Moffit, four free throws from Artress, a jumper by Anderson, a put-back by Cam Sova, and a three-pointer by Louis Cotton.
The Braves scored 30 points in the final eight minutes, hitting 15 free throws down the stretch.
Tawas won by 17, 76-59.
“In the first half, we did a really solid job defensively. We limited Tawas’ leading scorer, Owen Irvin, to five points and did not allow many opportunities for Tawas to score off their half court sets. We also controlled the tempo of the game,” Coach Rich Moffit said.
“The second half was a different story. We were not able to stop the Braves from penetrating into our defense and fouled them. Tawas shot 38 free throws in the second half and we had five guys foul out. The Irvin kid was really solid, hitting for 16 of 17 free throws in the second half. As coaches, we have a saying that ‘fouling negates our hustle.’ I thought our guys worked hard in the contest, but we put them at the line with our fouling,” Coach Moffit said.
Artress had 18 points, two assists, and one block for Grayling. Nicholas had 13 points and two assists. Irvin had 36 points for Tawas.
The Vikings finished their 2017-2018 season with an overall record of 12-9 (8-6 league, 0-1 playoff).
Grayling had eight seniors on its team this year: Cotton, Nicholas, Moffit, Brent Weismiller, Sam Davis, Artress, Chris Hunter, and Spencer Tomczak.
“This senior group has brought a lot of good memories to Viking Nation. They have combined for a 30-15 record over the course of the last two years. This includes a 2017 district championship. They have also represented themselves very well in the classroom and our community,” Coach Moffit said.