Max effort: Ogden's 33 lead Traverse City St. Francis past Harbor Springs, 59-50

Jan. 16—TRAVERSE CITY — Max Ogden brought instant offense to Traverse City St. Francis from the time he stepped foot in the Gladiators' gym.

The senior continued that Tuesday night, scoring more than half of TCSF's output and lighting it up for 33 points in a 59-50 Lake Michigan Conference win over visiting Harbor Springs.

St. Francis (5-4, 4-1 Lake Michigan) graduated its starting five from last year's run to the Division 3 state championship game. Ogden transferred in from Traverse City West and provided immediate help.

"I'm stepping into a big role because a lot of seniors left last year, and I'm just trying to do the best I can at that role," Ogden said. "Right now, we're doing all right; 5-4, but we can definitely do better."

Ogden is averaging 24.1 points per game this season.

"He brings a lot to the table there for us," St. Francis head coach Sean Finnegan said. "He's a natural scorer and is someone you can rely on to hit a shot when you need one. We're working to continue to make him a better defender."

Harbor Springs' top three scorers combined for 40 — just seven more points than Ogden by himself.

"It's been crazy," Ogden said. "I try not to think about it. I'm getting a lot more shots than I was at West, and I'm just hitting them right now. They trust me, so I'm just going to keep shooting it."

Ogden scored 16 in the fourth quarter alone, including 6 for 6 from the free-throw line.

Harbor Springs had fought back into the game with a strong third-quarter showing, trailing by only three heading into the fourth. Ogden hit two 3-pointers, a pair of floaters in the lane, and knocked down all six free throws as the Gladiators pulled away in the fourth.

St. Francis trailed 15-12 heading into the second quarter, but the Glads let loose for a 20-5 second stanza, fueled by four 3-pointers that included back-to-back bombs by Harrison Shepherd.

"At halftime, we were down 12," Harbor Springs head coach John Flynn said. "I said, 'Look, if we can just cut it to six or four, we're in the game.' That's something to build on."

That's precisely what the Rams did, going on a 13-4 run in the third quarter to go into the fourth trailing by only three. Junior forward Collin Lang scored six and Rider Bartel had four in the run.

"Traditionally, third quarters are usually a good quarter for us, so that was disappointing to come out and have four points in the quarter," Finnegan said. "It was a stretch where we had good opportunities and just couldn't finish inside."

Harbor Springs (6-5, 3-3 Lake Michigan) has a very young squad, with center Nick VanSloten the only senior and six sophomores on varsity, three of whom start.

"I just challenged our guys to play hard, with effort, energy," Coach Flynn said. "They're doing that now. The next step is to not only play hard, but play smart. We had too many errors. When we started to make a run, every time we'd have a turnover or a missed box out or something."

Braeden Flynn, who came in averaging around 23 points a game, scored 14 for the Rams. Lang scored a team-high 16, and Bartel had 10. VanSloten added five.

"They're a young group, and they've got a lot of talented players," Finnegan said of Harbor Springs. "They have a lot of kids that can score, those two guards especially. I wasn't surprised to see them fight back. We knew they had it in them. Happy with how we closed the game out after sustaining that run and then finishing how we should."

The Glads entered the evening in a three-way tie atop the LMC standings, along with Elk Rapids and Charlevoix, but the Elks dropped a one-point decision to Boyne City to leave St. Francis and the Rayders tied for first.

"They played a lot of good basketball," Coach Flynn said of the Glads. "They have strong, physical athletes and they're well-coached. It's a hard combo. You have to play exceptionally, especially on their court because they're going to pick on your weaknesses — and that's what they did tonight."

Harbor Springs' last win against St. Francis was Feb. 1, 2017. The Rams have beaten St. Francis only twice in the last decade, once in 2014 and again in 2017.