By Jared Schmeltzer
Tuesday night the Merrill boys basketball team hosted Hortonville for their second game of the season. It was a back and fourth battle throughout the whole game with the Bluejays being able to pull away at the end for an 87-79 victroy.
In the first half Hortonville controlled the action for the most part, as the Polar Bears led Merrill by 14 at one point. Merrill had a tough time getting into rhythm and both teams got in a bit of foul trouble. In the final four minutes of the first half with the Bluejays trailing by 12, Merrill went on a 16-3 run sparked by three point shooting, knocking down free throws and fast break opportunities, to take a 39-38 lead into the halftime break.
Coming out of halftime both teams were able to find rhythm on offense and put up a lot of points. Hortonville put up 41 points in the second half, however the Bluejays were able to match that plus more as they scored 48 on their way to the 87-79 win. Free throw shooting made the difference in the game with Merrill knocking down 24 of their 28 attempts (85%) and Hortonville only making 11 of their 22 attempts (50%).
Three players shouldered most of the scoring load for Merrill with Quinn Steckbauer being the leading scorer with 27 points. Steckbauer scored nine points from three point territory and made all 10 of his free throw attempts. Zach Mootz finished the game with 24 points on eight for nine shooting from the free throw line and knocking down two three pointers. Jared Olhoff scored 16 for Merrill with most of his points coming in the paint, however he did hit one three pointer an knocked down three of his four free throws.
Merrill will be back on the court Saturday as they travel to Kaukauna High School to take on Seymour at 6:15 p.m.