Point on the mark in win over Jays
The Bluejays boys stumbled in Friday’s road game in Stevens Point, dropping a 58-35 game to the Panthers.
“We didn’t finish well around the basket,” MHS coach Kurt Soderberg said. “It was a very physical game inside.
“SPASH is a unique team. Their philosophy is they want a lay-up or a three(-pointer). They do a lot of cutting in the lane, and passing outside. We played a zone the whole game and did pretty well with it.
“But they are 38% from three(-point range) as a team so they’re shooting a very high percentage. (Eric) Zelhofer is shooting 48% from three in conference. We held him in check for most of the game until the fourth quarter.
“The game plan was solid and the kids did a nice job executing it. Sometimes is just doesn’t work out.”
The Bluejays connected on just 12-of-40 shots, a cool 30%, including 1-for-6 (17%) from long range. Merrill also struggled at the free throw line.
“We didn’t finish the way we needed to on the offensive end,” Soderberg said. “You’re just not going to win many games shooting 10-for-21 at the free throw line.”
Merrill trailed 12-8 at the end of the first quarter, and 23-17 at halftime. Point started to pull away through the third, bumping it to 37-26, then pulling away with a 21-9 fourth.
“The final score is a little misleading,” Soderberg said. “It was more of a 6-10 point game most of the way. We gave up a big fourth quarter when we were forced to foul to try to get back into the game.
“SPASH certainly isn’t that much better than us. I don’t think they’re any better. I think it will be a different game the next time we see them.”
Point powered the win with hard-to-duplicate accuracy, hitting 7-of-15 three-pointers (47%) and 17-of-20 foul shots (85%).
“Honestly, I thought the kids defended really well overall,” Soderberg said. “I told the kids I’d give them an A- on executing the game plan.
“They don’t have much size, so they try to make it a faster game, which they weren’t able to do against us. They are very well coached. (Scott Anderson) is playing to the strength of the group he has. They played that way last year, too, so it was no surprise to us.”
It was no benefit that David Jesperson came down ill the previous day.
“A thing that was subtle but obvious to us was David was sick after school Thursday and we weren’t sure he would play until game time,” Soderberg said. “It takes a lot out of you. He still played pretty well, but his legs got tired and he was getting winded. We all get sick and have to learn to play with it and I thought he did a good job with that.”
Merrill provisions came from: Jesperson (12 p, 7 r); Jared Wardall (9 p); Brandon Bartz (4 p, 3 r); Ben Anderson (4 p); and Nick Mootz (3 p).
Merrill-FG: 12-40 (30%); FT: 10-21 (48%). Wausau West-FG: 17-34 (50%); FT: 17-20 (85%).
The Jays are at 2-2 in the WVC and 5-7 overall after the game. Point is 3-1 and 7-4.