The Bluejay boys basketball team hung with two more team last week and came up empty again both times despite playing solid ball.
Merrill fell 44-37 at D.C. Everest on Tuesday, then dropped a 40-37 game at home on Friday, in a co-ed double-header with Wausau East.
“Similar to Everest, we got off to a good start on both ends of the floor,” MHS coach Kurt Soderberg said. “In the second half, we came up with six stops in a row, but, unfortunately, we struggled to score.
“We turned it over and missed some good looks late. That was the difference. We held their best player – (J.P.) Lacy – well below his average. Riley (Sutton) and Ben Tabor did a nice job on him. There were a lot of things that were positives, but all the kids felt we should have won.
“We’ve put ourselves in position to win again. Four games we’ve done that without getting the win. Now we’ve got to figure out why that’s happening and correct it.”
The Bluejays held a lead for much of the East contest, and used a 7-1 run to intermission to take a 24-17 lead.
Merrill still led 34-33 with 1:36 to go in the game, when Thomas Dunbar lost control of the ball trying to dribble between two Jays but got a blocking foul call. He made consecutive free throws on back-to-back possessions for a 37-34 lead.
Scott Wallace cut it to 37-35 and Zach Mootz drove for a lay-up that made it 39-37 with :20 left. Mootz came up with a huge play by tying up the ball on full-court pressure. His ensuing three-point attempt narrowly missed, and Sutton and Lacy battled for the long rebound before Lacy came up with it.
The Jays were paced by Mootz (12 p, 6 r), Riley Sutton (10 p, 7 r), Wallace (5 p, 4 r), Tabor (4 r).
WE– 17-23– 40. FG- 12-36 (33%), 3-pt- 4-13 (31%). FT: 12-18 (67%).
MHS– 24-13– 37. FG- 15-43 (35%), 3-pt- 3-15 (20%). FT- 4-7 (57%).
The jays started strong in this one, too, but slowed down in the second half and another late opponent surge stole a winnable contest.
“At the start we led by as much as 10,” Soderberg said. “Probably the last three minutes they were able to take the lead. We had some open looks we missed and there was a real discrepancy in free throws again. We were 1-for-2 and they shot like 19. We have to execute in the second half. We have enough experience that we shouldn’t be having this conversation, but I think we’ll be fine.”
Leading Merrill were Wallace (6 p, 3 r, 6 a), Sutton (8 p, 4 r), Mootz (8 p), Jon Gruetzmacher (4 p), Reissmann (3 p), Hoff (3 p).
MHS–FG- 14-33 (42%), 3-pt- 8-17 (47%), FT- 1-2 (50%); D.C.E.– FG: 14-34 (41%), 4-10 (40%). FT: 12-19 (63%).