By Jared Schmeltzer
Friday night’s basketball double header brought Wausau West to town to take on the Merrill boys in the late game. The Bluejays had a strong performance and took the 79-52 victory.
In the first half Merrill was dominant, outscoring West by 16 points. The Bluejays first half charge was led by Chase Bonnell and Zach Mootz who each had 12 points in the half. With Bonnell and Mootz nearly combining for the same amount of points as the whole West team in the first half (26 points), Quinn Steckbauer’s 10 first half points were enough to give Merrill a lead. The second half was more of the same for Merrill as they outscored West 37-26. Mootz built on to his first half point total with 11 more in the second half. Mootz was balanced with his scoring hitting four three pointers, four two point shots and making three of his four free throws. Jared Olhoff followed not far behind with eight second half points to bring his total to 12. Olhoff was a problem for West inside, scoring 10 of his points down low while hitting both of his free throw attempts.
The Bluejays would win by a final score of 79-52 keeping their conference record looking good at 2-0.
Merrill will be back on the court on Thursday as they travel to Medford for a 7:15 p.m. game.
Bluejays overpower Wausau East
Tuesday night’s (Dec. 12) home game against Wausau East was another display on dominance for the Merrill boys basketball team. The Bluejays outclassed the Lumberjacks 87-48.
Merrill came out of the gates hot putting up a lot of points, outscoring East 48-32 in the first half. Jared Olhoff led the way with 17 first half points followed behind Zach Mootz with 12 points in the half. Despite the amount of points the Bluejays put up, the defense was what stood out to head coach Jake Schalow.
“I thought from the tip we were much more focused on getting stops and keeping East out of scoring positions,” Schalow said, “and we were much better than we had been in our first three games.”
The second half was more of the same as Merrill outscored the Lumberjacks 39-16, on the way to their second win of the early season. Olhoff built on his nice first half with eight more points in the second to give him a personal season high of 25 on the night. Michael Casper wasn’t far behind Olhoff with seven second half points, while also picking up a personal season high of 13 points. Coach Schalow had some high praise for the two.
“Jared was phenomenal on Tuesday, and he has been very good so far this season shooting at 81% from the floor through four games now,” Schalow said. “I was happy for Michael to get some shots to fall. He has shown an ability to shoot it at a high level throughout practice, and for him to get some live game reps to fall will only help him, and our team, moving forward.
“I would still like us to limit our opponents’ offensive rebounds,” coach Shalow continued. “We have given up 10+ offensive rebounds in three of our four games and is something that we need to clean up as we head into conference play.”
Merrill had four players crack double digits in the scoring colunm. Olhoff led all scorers with 25 points on 9/11 shooting. He also brought down three rebounds and had two assists in the game. Mootz put up 14 points in the game to go with 13 rebounds, four assists and three steals. Casper had a season high 13 points on 5/9 shooting to go with his two rebounds and two assists. Steckbauer had 10 points on 100% shooting from the field (three shots) and from the free throw line (five attempts).