By Jared Schmeltzer
The Merrill boys basketball team traveled to Wausau East Tuesday night for a conference battle against the Lumberjacks. Merrill trailed East after the first half but were able to fight their way back into the game and take the 74-73 win.
“It was a gut check game for us.” Said Bluejays head coach Jake Schalow. “We lost out on a practice on Monday with the snow day, so we were off heading into the game.”
The Bluejays came out of the gates slow as coach Schalow pointed out saying, “We had a slow start but was happy with our resiliency and how we battled to get back into the game.”
Wausau East led the Jays for just about the entire first half and would go into halftime holding a 40-32 lead. Merrill’s Quinn Steckbauer did a great job helping Merrill stay in the game in the first half as he was able to put up 14 points. Steckbauer didn’t do it alone however as Zach Mootz totaled 10 first half points and Chase Bonnell put up five.
In the second half of play the Bluejays were able to flip the script on East as they outscored them 42-33, good enough for the one point victory. Chase Bonnell stepped up huge for Merrill in the second half, putting up 11 points to bring his total to 16. Coach Schalow was impressed with Bonnell’s play saying, “I was really happy with how Chase Bonnell stepped up in the second half and played bringing us a spark that we desperately needed.”
Bonnell wasn’t the only Bluejay player to step up in the second half as Jared Olhoff scored eight points after having only one in the first half. Zach Mootz kept steady with nine more points in the second half as he finished the game with 19. Steckbauer also kept his nice game going as he scored eight more points in the half as he led all scorers with 22 for the game.
Quinn Steckbauer not only had the most points out of anyone in the game, he also had four rebounds, four assists and two steals. Mootz ended the game with 19 points, eight assists, six rebounds and three steals. Chase Bonnell would finish with 16 points to go along with his six rebounds and six assists.
The Bluejays will see the court again on Friday as they play the back end of a double header at Wausau West, tipping the game off at 7:45 p.m.