BY MIKE ECKERT
BENZONIA — With 13 seconds left in the third quarter on Tuesday, Byron Bullough and the rest of the St. Francis starters headed to the bench for the rest of the night.
Their work was done.
Bullough's game-high 29 points helped the Gladiators pull away in the second half for a 76-51 non-conference win at Benzie Central.
"He just kept carrying and carrying us," St. Francis coach Keith Haske said of Bullough. "If he hadn't shown up tonight, it would've been a different game. That's how he's capable of playing, so it's fun to see that. Maybe that will get him going every night."
Bullough knocked down five 3-pointers for the 10-0 Gladiators.
"I didn't really have the feeling (before the game)," Bullough said. "I came out here and just started stroking it. It's a great feeling when you feel like everything you throw up is going in. I'm kind of a streaky player too, so that plays into it."
St. Francis led 36-24 at the half, but 14 points from Bullough in the third quarter made it 63-37 going into the fourth.
"We talked about at halftime to forget about that one (first half) and play better basketball," Haske said. "A lot of that went to Byron. And our bench guys picked us up. Austin Currie played another great game for us."
For Benzie Central (2-5), turnovers were a factor with 32 on the night. That included 10 in the third quarter.
"We were within 12 at halftime and thought if a few things went our way we could make a good game of it," Huskies coach Matt Olson said. "But there was a four-minute stretch in the third quarter where we turned the ball over too much and didn't score. They took advantage of it."
Corey Weaver paced the Huskies with 21 points and 15 rebounds. He had 13 of Benzie's 24 first-half points.
"Once the game got going up-and-down, you sometimes forget about the big guy," Haske said. "Benzie wants to push the ball and we want to push the ball. So I think that probably worked out to our favor in the end."
Nathan Oren added 10 points for Benzie Central while Ismael Halaweh had eight points.
"We're only going to get better from that game," Olson said. "It was a good learning experience for us. One man can't beat the press. St. Francis exploited that tonight, but we're going to be better because of it in the long run."
For the Gladiators, Kody Kleinrichert had 11 points and seven rebounds, Damon Sheehy had six assists and two steals while forward Connor Archer had six points and four assists.
St. Francis is now 10-0 and pulled the No. 3 ranking this week in the first Associated Press Class C poll.
"It's tremendous," Bullough said. "It's where we expected to be. Everything is now in front of us."