By Jared Schmeltzer
On Tuesday (Jan. 9) the Merrill boys basketball team traveled to Lincoln High School for a game against Wisconsin Rapids. Merrill struggled against their conference foe and lost by a score of 67-54.
The first half was tightly contested with Merrill keeping the score close throughout but Rapids was able to go into the break holding a four point lead.
“We didn’t defend the way we needed to in order to come out with a win,” said Merrill head coach Jake Schalow. “Credit Rapids, they came out very sound defensively and beat us up around the hoop.”
Michael Casper was one bright spot for the Bluejays in the first half, knocking down four threes on his way to a 14-point half. Zach Mootz had the second most first half points coming in with five.
The second half got ugly for Merrill as they were only able to muster up 24 points, while allowing Wisconsin Rapids to put up 33. Casper added another three ball to his total bringing him to 17 for the game. Chase Bonnell led the second half scoring for the Bluejays with six coming off of one three pointer, knocking down one of his two free throws and a layup. Mootz had another five points in the second half bringing his total to 10.
Coach Schalow sees room for improvement in how the boys played. “We need to find a better rhythm offensively and need to get better defensively,” he said.
The Bluejays struggled shooting all around with a team field goal percentage of only 36%. Casper was an exception to the struggles as he knocked down five of his six three pointers and six out of his seven total shots to get his 17 points. Casper would also end up with three rebounds and an assist. Mootz didn’t have his best game, totaling 10 points on three-for-17 shooting. Mootz was still able to contribute four assists and grab three rebounds in the game. Bonnell would end the game with nine points on three-for-eight shooting, grabbing five rebounds, dishing out one assist and getting four steals.
The Bluejays have a bit of a break, not playing again until Friday as they travel to D.C. Everest for another conference match up.