Tigers turned snipers gun down Bluejays
The end of the regular season didn’t exactly play out the way the Merrill boys hoped it would. Visiting Marshfield must have used the day’s weather delay on long-range shooting, for the Tigers blazed guns from the very beginning of Friday’s 60-36 contest, finishing with 60% accuracy despite slowing down later in the game.
“It was tough sledding right from the start, because they were making three-point shots contested,” MHS coach Kurt Soderberg said. “They made 8-of-11 three-point shots in the first half. We just couldn’t come back from that. We finished 0-for-10 from three. Their ability to hit threes and our inability really cost us the game.
“It’s kind of been a reoccurring theme for us. If we don’t score threes, we don’t win. We’ve got a little extra time this week to sort that out.
The range for high school boys has definitely stretched in recent years.
“The top three three-point shooters are shooting over 50% in our league, and 33% is the break-even point,” Soderberg said. “It’s such a huge weapon. Just make a couple and it can swing momentum. It’s a big play. We need to make that play.”
Marshfield didn’t have any in that group, but ranked fifth-eighth before Friday with Lucas Zuiker (.457), Matt Oestreich (.444), Alex Strege (.436), Jeff Allison (.435).
Austin Reissmann was 13th at .347 to lead the Jays.
“One thing we’ll really focus on in the off-season is why we’re not making the threes,” Soderberg said. “We’ve had an emphasis on shooting mechanics, but maybe we need to put kids in different situations in practice with more pressure.
“I think we have kids that can do it this year and we have kids coming up that can do it.”
The Tigers ended up 9-15 from long range, their 60% better than their overall shooting of 56% and free throw shooting of 43%. Merrill connected on 13-of-27 two-pointers.
The Tigers’ early shooting provided them with 16-4 and 39-13 leads. The Bluejays out-scored them 13-9 in the third before hanging within 12-10 in the fourth.
Production for Merrill came from: Mootz (14 p, 4 r, 3 st); Jake Anderson (4 p, 3 r, 2 bl); Bartz (5 p, 3 r); Matt Rekowski (5 p, 3 r); Alex Zettler (6 p); and Tucker Diethelm (4 r).
MHS–FG: 13-37 (35%); FT: 10-17 (59%). Marsh–FG: 24-43 (56%); FT: 3-7 (43%).
The Bluejays ended up 3-9 in the Valley and 9-13 overall. Marshfield (9-3, 15-6) placed second in the WVC. The winner of Tuesday’s regional opener between Wausau East (4-8, 10-10) and Lakeland (10-11, 6-6, 5th GNC) comes to town for a 7:00 regional game on Friday. The Jays split with the Lumberjacks and topped the T-birds twice over this past season.
“We’ve got as good a shot as anyone else to make a deep run in the playoffs,” Soderberg said. “That’s got to be our focus starting (Monday) in practice. Hopefully we can still make a run here.”