By Greg Gielczyk
WEST BRANCH — It was a rough night for Grayling’s boys basketball team in the MHSAA Class B district tournament quarterfinal round against Tawas at Ogemaw Heights Monday in West Branch.
Grayling’s hopes of advancing to the semifinals were dashed when the Braves registered a 76-59 victory.
The Vikings closed the 2017-18 season with a 12-10 record overall, and were 8-6 in the Lake Michigan Conference. Tawas improved to 7-13 and will now play Gladwin in the semifinals Wednesday.
Vikings Coach Rich Moffit said the Vikings controlled the tempo in the first half, taking a 25-22 lead into the lockerroom.
‘We did a really solid job defensively. We limited Tawas’ leading scorer, Owen Irvin, to 5 points and did not allow many opportunities for Tawas to score off their half court sets.’
He said the second half was a different story. Irvin opened up in the second half, scoring 34 points, including 16-17 from the charity stripe, finishing with a game-high 39 points.
‘We were not able to stop the Braves from penetrating into our defense and fouled them,’ Moffit said. ‘Tawas shot 38 free throws in the second half and we had five guys foul out.
‘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.’
The Vikings had two players in double figures, led by Christian Artress (18 points) and Justin Nicholas (13). Trey Moffit put in seven, Ryan Anderson added six, Nick Hunter four, Lou Cotton chipped in with three and Mitchell Kuziel, Cam Sova and Conner Brill had two apiece.
Moffit, who is retiring from the bench, said 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,’ Moffit said.
‘They have also represented themselves very well in the classroom and our community.’
Tawas plays Standish-Sterling on Wednesday.