MARQUETTE - If these were opening-game jitters, Marquette's opponents had better watch out this season.
With a fast start led by senior guards Andy Nyquist and Brad Brow, the Redmen boys raced past Gladstone, 60-33, in a Great Northern Conference high school basketball game played Tuesday night at Marquette Senior High School.
Nyquist hit a pair of 3-pointers in the opening four minutes and Brow hit the first of his pair of first-quarter triples with 2:45 left to stake Marquette to a 14-0 lead.
Gladstone High School junior Tyler Wells, front, switches gears to go around Marquette Senior High School senior Cameron Grant, back, Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2103 at the MSHS Gymnasium in Marquette. (Journal photo by Steve Brownlee)
Nyquist extended the advantage to 24-6 after he nailed a 3 from the top of the key and a 2-pointer on a fast-break layup in the first 35 seconds of the second quarter.
"We always like to see how it's going early," MSHS coach Brad Nelson said about shooting 3s, "but we've got some great shooters on this team, four or five or six of them.
"The guys put in the time to be able to make those kinds of shots."
Gladstone 6 11 10 6 - 33
Marquette 19 14 16 11 - 60
Summary (field goals, free throws, total points)
GLADSTONE - Ballard, 1-1-3; Stenson, 0-2-2; Wells, 1-0-3; Mahoney, 1-1-3; Hunter, 3-2-8; Groleau, 2-0-5; Jurek, 1-3-5; Olesak, 1-2-4. Totals, 10-11-33.
MARQUETTE - Nyquist, 5-2-15; Brow, 5-0-12; Brazeau, 0-2-2; Burnette, 7-1-15; Grazulis, 1-0-2; Grant, 1-0-4; Burmeister, 1-0-2; Riopelle, 1-0-2; Dolan, 2-0-4; Bashaw, 0-2-2. Totals, 23-8-60.
FG shooting: Gladstone, unavailable; Marquette, 23 of 53 (43.4 percent); FT shooting: Gladstone, 11 of 18 (61.1 percent); Marquette, 8 of 15 (53.3 percent); Rebounding, Gladstone, unavailable; Marquette, 38 (Connor Brazeau, 10).
A third senior starting guard, Larry Burnette, shared scoring honors with Nyquist as each scored 15 points. Brow added 12.
"A lot of people are doubting us this year after we lost Mark (Pap) and A.J. (Grazulis)," Burnette said about graduating 6-foot-6 and 6-7 players from last year's 19-4 squad that went undefeated in the GNC.
"Andy came out with the hot hand, and we got a lot of points off turnovers.
"There was a little rust at times, but overall I think we were a little bit better than OK tonight."
What this edition of the Redmen feature instead of a veteran inside presence are a trio of guards who all started a signifcant portion of last season.
Nelson can afford to have three guards on the floor at the same time since the starting five average nearly 6-4 - none of the starters is shorter than 6-2 and they get a tallness boost from 6-8 junior center Vejas Grazulis, the brother of A.J. Grazulis.
"It's a little bit different dynamic this year, like where we get our rebounding from, but our philosophy hasn't changed," the coach said. "We're fortunate we've had a lot of quick kids the past few years, so we're always pushing it and we want to put pressure on with our defense."
The press forced 13 steals, including three each by Nyquist and Brow despite not playing much in the second half, but the offense turned the ball over 17 times.
"Seventeen, that's way too high," Nelson said. "But considering that we played guys for a significant period of time who don't have a lot of varsity experience, I understand how we had so many turnovers."
Coach Dale Hongisto of Gladstone (0-2 overall, 0-1 GNC) was duly impressed with the Redmen.
"We would've had to play a very good game to have a chance, and we didn't," Hongisto said. "But give them a lot of credit. They're going to win a lot of games.
"I was hoping that this being their first game, they wouldn't light it up early like they did.
"We're going to get better, and I'm not just saying that. Wait and see how much we're going to improve, but it may take a little while."
Hongisto used a majority of his timeouts in the first half trying to settle his team down and slow Marquette's momentum, and it worked for awhile.
Immediately after Nyquist's early second-quarter spurt, Marquette didn't score for about 4 1/2 minutes and Gladstone used the 7-0 string to pull within 24-13.
But another senior guard, 5-9 Cam Grant, hit the Redmen's sixth 3-pointer of the first half about a minute before intermission to make it 33-17 at the break.
Nelson kept his starters in long enough to reel off another 13-1 spurt in the first four minutes of the third quarter to make it 46-18. Then the MSHS bench was emptied.
The Braves were paced by senior forward Jared Hunter with eight points as he was the only Gladstone player with more than two baskets.
Marquette's other starter, 6-3 junior forward Connor Brazeau, scored just two points but pulled down a team-high 10 rebounds.
MSHS also won the JV game, 52-33.