Friday afternoon, Bluejay Boys Basketball made their season debut at the 10-team “It’s Just a Game Shootout” hosted by Wisconsin Dells. First to step up were the Randolph Rockets, who thanks to a spirited Bluejay revival, would eventually fall victim to the guys in overtime 77-71.
The Jays fell behind early, trailing 21-32 at the half but would come back with a vengeance with a 56-point second-period effort to hammer out the win.
“We had a bit of a slow start,” explains first-year Head Coach Jake Schalow. “We were a little more sloppy with ball turnover more than we had seen in our scrimmages and practice.
“Things started to turn around when we switched to our press. We started making some great plays in our back-court which led to some steals and easy baskets. That really seemed to be the jump start our offense needed.
“From there, Zach Mootz really stepped up for us. He took control the last six minutes of the game and into the overtime period which was great to see. Quinn (Steckbauer) and Chase (Bonnell) enjoyed a very solid afternoon for us as well.
“We are shaping up to have a balanced, deep squad this year with 6-7 athletes who can step up to lead us on any given night which is good.”
As the coach alluded to, Mootz led the charge for the Jays in powerhouse fashion with 36 points on the day (4/14 FG, 2/7 3pt, 4/5 FT, 5a, 9st).
Steckbauer followed with another 14 (10/20 FG, 5/10 3pt, 11/15 FT, 2a,st) and Bonnell iced the cake with 13 of his own (5/13 FG, 1/6 3pt, 2/4 FT)
MRL: 21 56-77
RND: 32 39-71
Battle of the Bluejays
The guys returned to the hardwood Saturday morning, squaring off with the Menasha Bluejays.
“The Menasha game seemed to be a bit of a role reversal compared to what we saw with Randolph,” Schalow adds. “We were very focused and attentive to the little details we needed to be successful.”
Despite a tooth and nail fight, the Menasha Bluejays edged Merrill by four in the first (23-27). Down, but far from out, Merrill returned fire and pulled their way back into the fight to edge Menasha for a 57-53 win.
“Menasha switched some things up on us which led to some foul trouble for us and issues with turnovers, resulting in them getting an early lead,” Schalow said. “Once again we went to our press. We extended the floor a bit and caused some turnovers of our own, which jump started the offense and brought us right back into the game.”
Mootz nailed down another solid performance with 18 points on the day (5/12 FG, 2/7 3pt, 6/6 FT, 2a, 2st) followed by Jared Ollhoff’s 12-point effort (4/10 FG, 4/6 FT,a). Quinn Steckbauer found his way into the double-digit club once again with 11 points (3/9 FG, 2/4 3 pt, 3/4 FT, 3a).
MRL: 23 34-57
MSA: 27 26-53
The guys will make their home debut on Friday, taking on Shawano and finish a three-game home stand on Dec. 9 with D.C Everest.
Game time is set for 7:30 p.m. Friday night at the MHS Field House.