Tigers bite Jays, but Merrill handles Hodags
The Merrill girls dropped a shot at second place with Friday’s loss at Marshfield, but they won Tuesday’s road game with Rhinelander that could have bigger implications on their season.
Topping the Hodags 45-39 gave the Bluejays the #1 seed in regional, where at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, March 7, Merrill will host the winner of the next Tuesday’s Lakeland (5-6, 11-9)/Medford (3-8, 7-12) game.
The Bluejays trailed the Hodags 12-9 after a qaurter, but they surged ahead 26-22 by halftime. Rhinelander went up 32-30 heading into the fourth, where the Jays turned it up 15-7 for the win.
“It wasn’t the prettiest of games,” MHS coach Melissa Yuska said. “We couldn’t get any offensive rhythm in the first half and they hurt us in transition. We did a good job of getting back on defense in the second half.”
Pacing Merrill were: Sladek (16 p, 8 r, 4 st, 2 bl); Anna Finnell (12 p, 3 a, 2 bl); Dawn Leland (4 p, 3 r); Morgan Marnholtz (3 p, 4 r); Mariah Turenne (7 p); and Reegan Byer (3 p, 3 r).
“Anna did a nice job of going strong to the basket, either getting baskets or the fouls,” Yuska said. “Renee did a nice job of getting more aggressive in the fourth quarter. She got a lot of free throws and we were able to walk away with the win.
“It’s a tough place to play. It’s a newer gym but very small.”
Merrill–FG: 14-38 (37%); FT: 15-25 (60%). WE–FG: 15; FT: 9-13 (69%).
A win would have tied the Bluejays with Marshfield for second in the WVC standings at 8-3, but it wasn’t happening with Ellie Kummer raining down five of the Tigers’ six three-pointers. She led all scorers with 23 points, at least 15 above her average, despite hitting on just 19% of her threes until this game.
“They shot the lights out,” Yuska said. “They shot 65% from the three-point line. We’d make a little comeback and they’d hit a three. If a girls strong, we’ve got to be aware of where she is on the floor. We really didn’t play all four quarters again. We’ve got five girls on the court and all five have to be going.
“It was a disappointing loss, but we’ve got to keep learning from our losses. What we fix will help us in the post-season.”
Bluejay contributions came from: Leland (11 p, 3 r); Sladek (6 p, 4 r, 2 bl); Finnell (10 p); Marnholtz (8 p); Morgan Wilde (4 p); and Byer (3 a).
Merrill–FG: 17-32 (53%); FT: 6-9 (67%). Marsh–FG: 19; FT: 17-23 (74%).
The Bluejays are 13-7 overall and tied with Wausau West for third in the Valley at 7-4. Marshfield is 9-2 and 14-7. Merrill will close out its Valley season at home on Thursday against Wis. Rapids (3-8, 6-12), while Marshfield is at West.