IRONWOOD — Michael Cretens is a good outside shooter. Just not Saturday, when he entered the final three seconds 0 of 8 from behind the 3-point line.
Cretens got open, took the inbound pass with 1 second on the shot clock and drained the game-winner in Gogebic Community College’s 71-68 victory over the University of Wisconsin-Marinette.
It was Gogebic’s second straight win and first this season without Bryce Bilski, who is now battling a knee injury.
Cretens, a 6-1 freshman from Gladstone, was mobbed by teammates multiple times afterwards.
“I loved that,” he said. “I struggled the whole game and coach trusted me to take the last shot.”
Marinette took its first lead since it led 5-4 with a three-point play by Greg Fleming that made it 63-60 with 4:38 to go.
Gogebic scored the game’s next five points to take the lead right back. LaDell Hickman hit a tough layup through the contact and the free throw fell for a 65-63 advantage.
The Samsons took a 68-63 lead with 1:21 to go on Jordan LaPlant’s basket. Marinette came all the way back to tie it on an impressive 3-pointer by Fleming.
Gogebic got the ball back with the shot clock about 2 seconds ahead of the game clock. Gogebic’s first try, a Cretens 3 attempt, was blocked out of bounds. Alex Dietrich’s shot from the baseline was also blocked out of bounds by Casey Wilson, giving GCC the ball with three seconds on the game clock and one on the shot clock.
Cretens was able to get wide open and Hickman found him on the inbounds pass where Cretens drained the shot and was mobbed immediately by his teammates.
“I figured they were going to take away the middle,” Gogebic coach Dennis Mackey said. “Jordan obviously was our No. 1 choice. We had Collin (Miller) coming across the low block for hopefully a finish. If they took away the outside, we figured we’d have the inside. They took away the inside and gave the outside. Mike hadn’t made a shot and they knew that. He didn’t make a perimeter shot. My God, he stuck with it and we’re happy.”
One second was enough for a catch and shoot for Cretens, who is 30 of 91 (33 percent) from behind the arc this season.
“I told him just get your feet down and get inbounds,” Mackey said. “The problem with that play is when you go on the wing and you’re rushing, sometimes you’ll go step back and go out of bounds. He did what he was supposed to do. He’s a good player, he just struggled with his shot a little bit today.”
Hickman deserved credit for finding Cretens when he got open.
“LaDell’s eight assists were big, none bigger than the inbounds pass to Mike for game winner,” Mackey said.
Marinette had a final chance with 1.0 second on the clock. Jonte Wells heaved it from half court, falling back into the scorers’ table, but the shot wasn’t close.
Marinette coach George Hayes said his team wasn’t keying on any player, including LaPlant, on the game winner.
“We were just trying to make sure we kept with our guy and if they made any screens, we were going to switch on every screen so that they didn’t spring somebody open like that,” he said. “I don’t know who didn’t switch or where the breakdown was. Somewhere we had a breakdown and let him get loose.”
The 3 by Fleming, who scored a game-high 21 points, to tie it at 68-68 came right after Marinette forced a Gogebic turnover in the backcourt.
“He cut out Jordan’s legs,” Mackey said. “Jordan went down and the ball went off Jordan’s hands. The kid who cut Jordan down got up and grabbed the ball. He come up and shot a 3 right from the ground, picked it up and shot a 3. It was a heck of an athletic play. You’ve got to give him credit. It was a great finish. I guess if I had him shooting a 3, that’s the one I’d want to take, grab and shoot it off the ground. But he drilled it and put it down to a last-second shot.”
Since the new year started, GCC has lost four games by single-digit margins, including three by four or fewer points.
“Our guys are playing hard, working hard,” Mackey said.
The Samsons broke a six-game losing streak with a win over the Michigan Tech Club team last week in key starter Bilski’s return from an academic suspension. He injured his knee during the week and his status for next week or even the rest of the season hasn’t been determined.
“It’s really devastating for the team and for Bryce,” Mackey said. “The guys stuck together and filled in the pieces. I thought we did a heck of a job here today and battled from start to finish.”
The timing for him is unfortunate.
“We all feel for him,” Mackey said. “He had to work so hard to get back. Give credit to him that he did it. But at the same time, then he gets back and boom that happens. It’s kind of disheartening. That’s the nature of sports. I’ve been around a long time. I’ve seen a lot of it. I’ve had my kids go down; I’ve gone down; I’ve seen players on other teams go down. That’s why you hopefully have enough depth on your team to fill in the parts when you go down.”
Hickman led Gogebic with 17 points. He was 8 of 9 at the free throw line. Collin Miller scored 11 of his 15 points in the first half and LaPlant finished with 12. Miller and LaPlant both had double doubles; Miller had a game-high 14 rebounds, LaPlant had 11.
“Collin Miller and Jordan LaPlant double doubles were huge,” Mackey said. “Alex Dietrich had a very good game.”
Marinette fell to 7-12 and has been playing better of late after a slow start to the season.
GCC (14-10) hosts Silver Lake College Saturday at 4 p.m.
UW-Marinette — Brandon Thomas 7, Jonte Wells 9, Casey Wilson 12, Ron Beal 9, Devonte Coe 8, Greg Fleming 21. FTs: 9-14. Fouls: 21. Fouled out: None. 3-pointers: Beal 2, Coe 2, Gleming 2, Thomas 1.
Gogebic — LaDell Hickman 17, Alex Dietrich 9, Marcus Bain 3, Jordan LaPlant 12, Collin Miller 15, Michael Cretens 5, Tarius Hagood 8, Gordy Kohegyi 2. FTs: 15-22. Fouls: 16. Fouled out: None. 3-pointers: LaPlant 2, Cretens 1, Bain 1, Hickman 1, Kohegyi 1.
Half: GCC 39-35.