By Jared Schmeltzer
On Saturday the Merrill girls basketball team hit the road to take on number one seeded Hortonville in the regional finals. Coming off a blowout win over Mosinee the night before, Hortonville was looking to do the same to Merrill. While the Bluejays fared better than the Indians, they still ended their playoff run on the short end of an 82-38 score.
It was tough going right from the start for the Bluejays as Hortonville held a 39-20 lead at halftime.
“A very tough game for us in all aspects,” commented head coach Joelene Weix. “We had difficulty getting stops and when we did, they really pounded the offensive boards. They shot well, especially around the arc. We could not get anything going on the offensive end. The last five minutes of the first half put us in a hole.”
The second half was a similar story for Merrill as Hortonville got even hotter from the offensive end, scoring 43 to the Jays’ 18.
“The second half started much like we ended the first half. We could not stop them and we could not get our shots to fall. Hortonville was a buzz saw and played very well,” said coach Weix.
Maddix Bonnell led the Bluejays in scoring for the game with 11 points. Bonnell also dished out three assists, brought in five rebounds and came away with a steal. Patience Pyan finished the game with 10 points, two assists and two rebounds. Rylee Mrachek ended the night with six points, one assist, and two rebounds.
“It was a bad taste to have for our senior players with it being their last game,” coach Weix said. “They have been a great group to coach and have done a great deal for our program. It has been fun to watch them grow into great young ladies on and off the court!”
Lady Jays down Hodags
On Friday night the Merrill girls kicked off their post season with a home game against Rhinelander. Merrill came out on a mission and took it right to the Hodags as the Bluejays took the 66-56 victory.
The Lady Jays came out of the gates hot and took the lead early, outscoring the Hodags 36-28 in the first half. The Bluejays harassed the ball handlers and caused a lot of turnovers, and were able to control the post the whole game.
“Good game for us,” ssaid coach Weix, “After a long break, I thought we came out aggressive. We shot the ball well. We were able to attack the inside with Liz and Rylee at the post.”
The second half of play was tightly contested with Merrill outscoring the Hodags 30-28, on their way to a 66-56 victory and a chance to play Hortonville. In the second half Merrill kept going to the post which resulted in a huge game for Liz Iribarren who would finish with a double-double. The Jays’ backcourt did its job as well.
“Bonnell and Pyan really picked up the scoring for us on the perimeter and they attacked the basket well,” coach Weix said.
Maddix Bonnell was able to mark her spot in Merrill girls basketball history as she scored her 1,000th point, which has not been done since Renee Sladek.
“Bonnell was recognized for 1,000 points Friday night,” Weix noted. “She has been a consistent player for us the last four years.”
Iribarren led the way for the Lady Jay offense as she racked up 20 points on 10 for 12 shooting. Iribarren was also able to get 11 rebounds in the game to mark a double-double. Patience Pyan had a nice game scoring 17 points, dishing out two assists, getting two steals and bringing down eight rebounds. Pyan was hot from deep as she hit three of her four three point attempts. Coming into the game, Bonnell was 15 points away from scoring 1,000 in her career and she was able to pass that milestone as she scored 16 points in the game. Bonnell also had six assists, three rebounds and a steal.