Merrill edges Marshfield boys basketball
By Paul Lecker
MARSHFIELD — One four-minute stretch during the third quarter doomed the Marshfield boys basketball team in its game against Merrill on Friday night.
Merrill used a 10-1 run over the final 4:40 of the third quarter to turn a five-point deficit into a four-point lead. The Bluejays then made 10 of 13 free throws over the final five minutes of the game to pull off a 46-45 victory at Marshfield High School.
Marshfield went ahead early on a pair of 3-pointers by Alec Hinson and two free throws by Caleb Alexander to take a 10-7 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The Tigers held Merrill scoreless for the first 5:39 of the second quarter to push their lead to 16-7 and led 19-14 at halftime.
Will Spindler made a pair of baskets to make it 23-18 with 4:40 to go in the third quarter before the Tigers’ offense fell apart.
Marshfield turned the ball over on four-straight possessions, missed its final three shot attempts from the field, and was made just one of three free throws over the final four minutes as Merrill surged ahead.
A basket by Chaz Mootz tied the game, and Riley Sutton’s lone basket of the night put the Bluejays ahead for the first time since they led 2-0.
A 3-pointer from Austin Reissmann gave Merrill a 28-24 lead at the end of the quarter, and the Tigers could not come back.
“We talked about at halftime that if we don’t have empty possessions and make free throws, we win the game, and we would have,” Marshfield coach Bill Zuiker said. “There were lots of different reasons. Empty possessions occurred, and the stats tell the story. We didn’t make free throws, and they did.
“It’s sad because we worked our tails off. To hold a team to 14 points in the first half, and without free throws they don’t really score that many points in the game. When you don’t get shots, it’s hard to score, and when you don’t make free throws, it’s doubly hard.”
Merrill led by as much as seven at 41-34 with 38 seconds left before the Tigers (6-13, 2-7 Wisconsin Valley Conference) made a final push.
Adam Fravert scored eight of his team-high 14 points in the final 33 seconds, and Hinson hit his third 3-pointer in the flurry, but Marshfield only got as close as the final score as Merrill made 6 of 8 free throws during that stretch. Fravert hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to provide the final margin.
“They started to press a little bit, but it wasn’t necessarily that. It really was in the half court,” Zuiker said. “Whether it’s not catching the ball, not throwing the ball away from the defense, throwing a pass that is simply ill-advised, you have to make better decisions and maximize your opportunities.”
Mootz was 8 of 8 from the free throw line and finished with 24 points and nine rebounds to lead Merrill (11-8, 6-4 Wisconsin Valley Conference).
Marshfield is off until next Friday when it plays at D.C. Everest. The game will be broadcast on WDLB-AM 1450 and wdlbwosq.com at 7:30 p.m.
(Hub City Times Sports Reporter Paul Lecker is also the publisher of MarshfieldAreaSports.com.)
Bluejays 46, Tigers 45
Merrill 7 7 14 18 – 46
Marshfield 10 9 5 21 – 45
MERRILL (46): Scott Wallace 0-2 5-6 5, Drew Hoff 1-4 0-0 3, Riley Sutton 1-4 0-1 2, Austin Reissmann 2-7 2-4 7, Jake Anderson 1-6 0-0 2, Trey Stevenson 0-0 0-0 0, Keenan Stellingworth 1-1 1-1 3, Chaz Mootz 8-17 8-8 24, Jon Gruetzmacher 0-0 0-0 0. FG: 14-41. FT: 16-20. 3-pointers: 2-9 (Hoff 1-2, Reissmann 1-3, Anderson 0-1, Mootz 0-1, Sutton 0-1, Wallace 0-1). Rebounds: 30 (Mootz 9). Turnovers: 9. Fouls: 20. Fouled out: none. Record: 11-8, 6-4 Wisconsin Valley Conference.
MARSHFIELD (45): Caleb Alexander 1-3 2-4 4, Tanner Boson 3-8 2-2 8, Derek Coffren 0-0 0-0 0, Tyson Slade 0-1 0-0 0, Kegan Fassler 1-1 2-4 4, Alec Hinson 3-7 0-1 9, Isaac Huettl 0-0 0-0 0, Will Spindler 3-5 0-1 6, Jordan Schlinsog 0-2 0-0 0, Adam Fravert 5-10 3-5 14. FG: 16-37. FT: 9-17. 3-pointers: 4-13 (Hinson 3-6, Fravert 1-1, Schlinsog 0-2, Boson 0-3, Slade 0-1). Rebounds: 29 (Spindler 11). Turnovers: 14. Fouls: 21. Fouled out: none. Record: 6-13, 2-7 Wisconsin Valley Conference.