Jays pull off narrow win against East
By Jared Schmeltzer
On Friday night the Merrill boys basketball team hosted conference foe Wausau East. It was a close game throughout, however the Jays would hold the lead for the majority of the game as they came out on top with a 77-74 victory.
“I thought it was a great high school basketball game, with both teams playing very well.” comments Merrill head coach Jake Schalow, “We did a great job early of getting stops and capitalizing on them.”
The first half of play saw a back and forth battle with the Jays getting the better of East, leading 39-33 at the half. Michael Casper hit a buzzer beating three pointer right before the half to give the Jays some momentum.
Casper led the Jays in scoring for the half with 15 points, all coming on three pointers. Quinn Steckbauer scored eight points in the half and Piersen Pyan and Chase Bonnell each scored five.
“As the game wore on, East became more efficient on the offensive and defensive ends and made it tougher for us to get stops and score.” adds coach Schalow. “I think that we had possessions where we settled for early, tougher shots than we could have gotten.”
In the second half the Jays were able to build an 11 point lead, however it would vanish as East went on a big scoring run to give themselves a one point lead with three minutes to play. It didn’t take long for Merrill to recover their lead and hold on to it to the end, winning by a final score of 77-74.
Coach Schalow was proud of how his team finished saying, “Ultimately, I am happy with how our team handled East’s run, and didn’t lose our composure at the end of the game. We had players step up and make plays to help us seal the win.”
Casper would lead Merrill in scoring for the game, finishing with 24 points, two rebounds, three assists, four steals and seven made three pointers. Steckbauer ended his night with 20 points, three rebounds, six assists and two steals. Bonnell rounds out the leading scorers with 14 points, seven rebounds, four assists and a steal.
Merrill is now 5-1 in conference play, same record as first place SPASH who defeated the Jays earlier on in the season.
Merrill will be back on the court on Friday as they travel to Marshfield for another big conference game with the third place Tigers, starting at 7:15 p.m.