Bluejay boys open season with 57-48 home win
Any lingering questions on how the MHS boys basketball team would start the season were answered Friday night when they beat Green Bay East Red Devils 57-48 at home for only the second opening win since Kurt Soderberg took over the team.
“Getting a win to start is a great motivator and confidence builder for the team,” Soderberg said.
He said that opening the season against a single team rather than traveling to a tournament “and play well but lose by seven,” was just one change in how the team approached the 2013-14 campaign. Soderberg said the team has concentrated more on a team approach than on individual skills.
“Our kids came in with their skills pretty high this year. That made it easier to focus more on team rather than individual skills,” Soderberg said.
Merrill wasted little time showing that it was capable of playing team ball as they shot out to a 14-5 lead after the first quarter and led 31-13 at one point in the second on the way to a 33-15 score at the break. After three quarters, Green Bay battled back in the second half, outscoring the Bluejays 17-10 in the third and 16-14 in the fourth, but couldn’t make consistent runs to cut further into the lead.
“Our ability to take it to the rim and hit timely three-pointers will be how we play this year,” Soderberg said. “And we saw that against East.”
Jake Anderson scored 20 points for Merrill, Alex Zettler and Chaz Mootz each had 13 points while Brandon Bartz scored 8 points, Nick Peterson had 3 and Matt Rekowski had 2.
Soderberg said that while he expects Anderson to be the leading scorer this season, several members of the squad are capable of stepping up to take over that role if needed.
“Unlike other years, we don’t have one guy dominating all the attention of opponents and getting the ball, not that Paul and David (Jesperson) did that in a bad way,” Soderberg said. “We have to have more balance this year and we are seeing that.”
Soderberg said it was good particularly to see Mootz perform well in his first significant amount of varsity playing time.
The boys play non-conference games against Antigo Tuesday, Nov. 26 and at Rhinelander on Dec. 3. They will open the conference portion of their schedule Dec. 6 at Wisconsin Rapids.