MHS is up-and-down
The Merrill boys basketball team wrapped a pair of losses around Friday’s 43-41 home Valley win over Marshfield.
The Jays also lost 57-49 at Wausau East on Tuesday and 53-49 at home to Shawano on Saturday.
Merrill trailed by up to 11 points in the second half before out-scoring the Tigers 19-8 in the fourth quarter.
“Marshfield was an excellent game,” MHS coach Kurt Soderberg said. “We had a tough stretch in the middle of the game, but we played defense well enough to turn it around.
“It was a big win for us. When we played in Marshfield (Nov. 30), they beat us by 26.”
With just 25 seconds left, David Jesperson converted a three-point play, but the Tigers’ Luke Zuiker rattled in a three over the 6’ 7” Jesperson with :13 to go. A lob play from Brandon Bartz to Jesperson put Jesperson on the line with just :0.6 left. Jesperson made the first free throw and accidentally banked in the second on an intended miss, giving Marshfield one last chance.
Zuiker made his shot after a long inbound pass, but it was ruled to be just after the horn.
MHS offerings came from: Jesperson (22 p, 9 r); Jake Anderson (9 p); and Nick Peterson (6 p).
Merrill–FG: 13-31 (42%); FT: 17-19 (90%). Marshfield–FG: 17-33 (52%); FT: 4-8 (50%).
The teams forced seven lead changes in Saturday’s see-saw contest, but Shawano put it away with a 23-20 edge in a wild fourth quarter.
“I feel like we take two steps forward and one step back,” Soderberg said. “That’s something we’ve got to straighten out before the playoffs. The loss to Shawano hurt because they’re in our region. It is good to see guys that haven’t played a ton get better.
“We never got into a rhythm on offense. We had many open shots and just didn’t knock them down and again we didn’t get to the foul line. A common thread for us is if we don’t get to the basket and draw fouls, we don’t win.”
The Hawks led 14-8 after a quarter, but MHS cut it to 24-22 by the half and 30-29 through three quarters.
Merrill contributions came from: Jesperson (27 p, 20 r, 2 bl); Anderson (6 p, 3 r); Chaz Mootz (5 p); Peterson (4 p); Andrew Seaman (4 p); Paul Theorin (3 a); Nick Mootz (3 p); and Michael Seaman (3 r).
“David’s numbers have been ridiculous, lately,” Soderberg said.
Merrill–FG: 20-45 (44%); FT: 6-10 (60%). Shawano–FG: 15-40 (38%); FT: 19-28 (68%).
Merrill actually out-scored East in three quarters, but the Lumberjacks used a 20-8 margin in the second to secure the win.
“We turned the ball over 22 times,” Soderberg said. “It was never out of reach, but our inability to take care of the ball took us out of the game. I don’t think the kids weren’t ready to play, it’s just that East did a good job of disguising what they were doing.”
Pacing Merrill were: Jesperson (23 p, 7 r); Anderson (5 p, 5 r); Bartz (4 p, 3 r, 3 a); Theorin (6 p, 3 a); and Peterson (6 p).
Merrill–FG: 17-36 (47%); FT: 12-19 (63%). East–FG: 19-40 (48%); FT: 13-16 (81%).
The Jays sit at 2-5 in the WVC, while Marshfield was 4-3 and East was 3-4.
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