TRAVERSE CITY — The parts are there, but the Traverse City St. Francis boys basketball team hasn’t quite been able to put it all together into one unit.
The Gladiators were within striking distance at times, but they couldn’t keep pace with Boyne City’s multitude of weapons and fell 64-50 on Friday at St. Francis High School.
The loss drops St. Francis to 2-6 overall and 1-5 in the Lake Michigan Conference.
“In the second half it seemed like we couldn’t get any flow offensively,” said St. Francis coach Keith Haske. “That’s a credit to Boyne because they press and they switch things up and they don’t let you get in a rhythm much. We’ve counted on Byron (Bullough) so much through the course of the year. Then when he’s off a little bit we’ve struggled. We’ve got to figure out a way to get those other two big kids (Tanner Kenney and Noah Phillips) and somebody else to give us some more scoring. Byron plays so tough, but he can only do so much.”
Bullough had 21 points to lead the Gladiators and Kenney added 10 in his first game in a St. Francis uniform after transferring from Traverse City Central. But it wasn’t enough against a skilled and talented Boyne team that had a few big spurts to give the Ramblers comfortable leads, then stifled the Gladiators whenever they were able to close the gap.
Four times Boyne (10-0) had runs of seven points or more, including a 10-0 burst early in the first quarter that put the Ramblers ahead for good, 15-5. St. Francis battled and repeatedly chipped away at big deficits, but the closest it could get was three points midway through the third period.
Ryan Carson led Boyne with 14 points, Corey Redman had 12 and Maceo Vroman 10 as the Ramblers received key contributions from a number of players.
“We’re really athletic. For our size we’re athletic and we’re skilled,” said Boyne City coach Nick Redman. “I like how we’re playing together. It’s a big win. St. Francis is a good team.”
The Ramblers should know. The last time the two teams met it took a shot by Corey Redman late in regulation to force overtime. Then the Ramblers had to erase a six-point deficit in overtime, rattling off the last 11 points of the night.
“We talked a lot about matching their intensity,” Nick Redman said. “I thought when they came into our gym St. Francis played so well and so hard. We knew, we had to match their intensity. We talked about playing skilled and playing smart. With those two 6-8 kids we knew we had to battle. I thought our defensive effort was outstanding. I’m really proud of our guys for that.”
Carson’s defense on Kenney was a big factor in the second half as he held St. Francis’s new big man to two points in the second half. Haske said getting into game shape could help Kenney’s performance in the coming weeks.
“He looked rusty,” he said. “He’s a lot better player than that. I really thought Carson did a good job on him. Once (Kenney) gets going, he certainly will help us as we go.”
Bullough and Kenney accounted for 25 of the Gladiators’ 32 first-half points — they trailed 39-32 — but they couldn’t get much going in the second half as St. Francis struggled on offense.
“Offensively we didn’t finish,” Haske said. “I thought we had a lot of different looks. We didn’t make the three. We didn’t finish inside. (Boyne City) is a really good team. They’re athletic kids. They’ve got a couple guys in Redman and Carson — those guys are tough and the other guys play well together.
“There’s no doubt, I really think we’re a better team. Not a better team than Boyne right now, but better than we’re playing.”
The Gladiators are right back on the court today when they meet Suttons Bay.