TRAVERSE CITY — The Grand Traverse Academy hadn't practiced all week, but that didn't stop the Mustangs from taking down the TC Bulldogs at home on Thursday.
The Mustangs sealed the 68-53 victory from the free-throw line down the stretch — they shot 81 percent from the line in the game.
"We haven't practiced since last Thursday, so I didn't know what to expect tonight," Mustangs head coach Matt Gorman said. "As a coach it was good to see them play like this coming off of a break."
GTA (3-6) dominated in the first half, leading 17-9 after the first quarter and 34-17 at the halftime break.
The Bulldogs went on to outscore the Mustangs in each of the last two periods, bringing the score to within seven points with only two minutes to play but GTA continued to knock down free throws.
The Bulldogs were forced to begin fouling with three minutes left and it made GTA become more selective with their shots as it held on to win.
Cooper Craft, who was injured for the entire month of December, is returning to form for GTA as he netted a game-high 22 points and added eight rebounds. The Mustangs dominated on the boards as 6-foot-5, 240-pound center Cahlob Myers grabbed 21 rebounds while scoring seven points.
"A lot of our guys played their roles really well tonight," Gorman said. "Elijah Mleko is a heck of player and we had to take him out of the game. I went up to him after and told him to keep grinding."
Mleko, one of the Bulldogs offensive leaders, was held to 12 points by the Mustangs stingy defense. Evan Stipe added 19 points for the Bulldogs.
Max McDonald scored 18 points with three steals and Jose Membrillo added 10 points for GTA.
The Mustangs have won two straight games, the first time they have won back-to-back contests this season.
GTA will head to Onekama on Tuesday.
Alpena (11-2, 4-2 Big North): Bruz Copping 28 points; Chris Derocher 26 points.
Gaylord (5-6, 1-5 Big North): Jared Landrie 16 points.
UP NEXT: The Blue Devils host Ogemaw Heights, Wednesday.
Inland Lakes 51
Mancelona (12-4, 9-3 Ski Valley): Matt Boyer 14 points; Jayden Alfred 7 points, 8 assists; Adam Ackler career-high 12 points.
UP NEXT: The Ironmen host Pellston, Tuesday. "The pressure's on them," Mancelona head coach Brian Sheridan said. "They're alone in first. Joburg and us are a game behind. They take a lot of threes. We have to defend and play with them."
Gaylord St. Mary 70
The Snowbirds snapped a five-game skid with a 70-65 Ski Valley Conference win over Onaway.
Gaylord St. Mary (6-7, 6-4 Ski Valley): Conrad Korte 19 points, 7 rebounds, 4 steals, 2 blocks, 7-8 free throws; Brady Hunter 13 points, 9 assists, 5 rebounds, 4 steals; Drew Koenig 12 points (all on 3-pointers); Alex Pudvan 9 points, 9 rebounds; Brody Jeffers 7 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 3-4 FG in first varsity game.
UP NEXT: The Snowbirds travel Tuesday to Bellaire.
— James Cook contributed to this report.
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