Merrill boys routed by talented Everest
The Merrill boys faced a significant challenge when league-leading D.C. Everest, ranked #5 in the state, came to town for Friday’s double-header varsity games.
The girls pulled out a 39-30 triumph, but the boys were handed a 57-33 loss by the 19-1 Evergreens, also 11-0 in the Valley.
“They are the best team we’ve played all year,” MHS coach Kurt Soderberg said. “They had big third and fourth quarters. Little by little the game slipped away in the third quarter. Everest would get a score and we were not able to answer. It was just a game where if you don’t capitalize it can end up with a score like that.”
D.C.E. took a 16-9 lead in the first quarter, but Merrill stepped up its defensive pressure and held the Evergreens to just two points in the second. The only problem? That was the same total Merrill scored.
“We had an opportunity to really make our mark in the second quarter, but we couldn’t get our offense going,” Soderberg said. “That’s obviously been a problem for us all year.”
Soderberg also felt the Evergreens were given too much license to maul.
“It was a really physical game,” He said. “The officials allowed it to be unfairly physical on David (Jesperson). Their plan was to take him out of the game-not literally, but figuratively. They had a lot of hands on him when he was trying to drive to the basket, and there were a lot of holds on him on his cuts. Nobody can play under those conditions. Had it been brought into check, it would have been in our favor.”
Everest boosted its margin to 33-17 with a 15-6 third and put it away with a 24-16 difference in the fourth.
MHS contributions came from: Jesperson (17 p, 3 r); Jared Wardall (5 p, 4 r); Nick Mootz (6 p); Andrew Seaman (3 p); and Greg Boyce (3 r).
Merrill-FG: 11-38 (29%); FT: 8-9 (89%). DCE-FG: 20-35 (57%); FT: 14-17 (82%).
Soderberg did enjoy the double-header approach to the night where the MHS varsity girls then the varsity boys face the same school in the same gym.
“I love the double-header,” he said. “I hope we can do it more. I think it’s great for basketball. We had a great crowd. It’s nice for the fans to be able to see both teams in the same night.
“With my daughter coming into high school next year, that will be the only way I’ll be able to watch her.”
The Jays fell to 7-14 overall and 4-7 in the Valley, good for a tie for fifth with Wis. Rapids.
The seeding meeting for WIAA regional action has Merrill hosting Mosinee next Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. The winner visits Antigo on Friday. The Jays close out their WVC season at Wausau East (6-5, 12-8) this Thursday.