Looking for their first Valley win, the Bluejay boys tripped up by the Warriors in Friday’s game at Wausau West.
West may have been 0-3 in the WVC compared to 0-2 for Merrill, but the Warriors improved to 7-5 overall with the 54-36 victory while MHS fell to 4-6.
“It was an odd game,” MHS coach Kurt Soderberg said. “They shot the ball very well and we didn’t. The kids battled hard but it wasn’t a good night for us. It just seemed anything that could go wrong for us did and West played well. Combine that and you see why they won.
“Watching tape of the game, quite honestly we didn’t play defense very well.”
Merrill fell behind 19-8 after a quarter and trailed 38-21 by halftime.
“They played a gimmick defense on Paul (Jesperson) with man-to-man on him and zone on the rest of the team,” Soderberg said. “We’ve seen that a lot, so it’s not that that hurt us. But Paul picked up three fouls early, in the first four minutes. One was certainly a foul and the other two didn’t look like much, but it kind of rocked us a little bit. To his credit he had one foul the rest of the game.”
The Jays kicked off the third quarter with an hot run to nip the gap to 38-30.
“When we cut it to eight points, I really thought we were going to come back and win,” Soderberg said. “After our run we made three more stops where we didn’t score. We were right on the cusp, you could feel it.”
The Jays out-scored West 10-8 in the third, but were edged 8-5 in the fourth. The Jays closed a cold night of 28% shooting, including 11% (2-of-17) from behind the arc.
“West is a good team,” Soderberg said. “There’s a lot of parity in the Valley. If we can get our act together, we can go on a run.”
Just two WVC teams-Merrill and 5-6 Wausau East-have an overall record under .500
Leading Merrill were: Jesperson (13 p, 11 r), Matt Woller (10 p, 7 r), Kyle Andreska (3 p, 3 r) and David Jesperson (6 p).