Bluejays look to secure conference title
By Jared Schmeltzer
On Friday night the Merrill boys basketball team traveled to D.C. Everest for a conference match up with the Evergreens. The Jays would take an early lead and continue to build on it on their way to a 89-61 victory.
The first couple minutes of the game was back and forth, however it didn’t take the Jays long to find their groove and take a 19 point lead into the locker room. Quinn Steckbauer led Merrill with 13 points in the half. Michael Casper would end the half with 10 points and Caleb Timm finished the half with nine.
“We did a great job of spacing the floor and making Everest have to guard us in space.” comments Merrill head coach Jake Schalow, “We were able to get into the paint and finish around the rim, or draw help defenders and kick it out to shooters. In addition, our spacing lead DCE into fouling us, and ultimately putting them in foul trouble situations. Defensively, I thought we did a tremendous job of limiting their dribble penetration and keeping them out of the paint. We forced them into tough contested jumpshots, and then did a very good job of finishing the play with a rebound. Again, we were very efficient offensively and got great shots on most possessions.”
In the second half Merrill piled on to their lead, outscoring Everest 44-37. Steckbauer kept his solid night going, scoring 21 more points in the second half to lead the Jays to the 89-61 win.
Steckbauer was Merrill’s leading scorer with 34 points to go along with four rebounds and five assists. Casper finished the game with 16 points, six rebounds and two assists. Timm played a big role for the Jays, ending with 14 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, two blocks and a steal. Chase Bonnell would round out the top performers with 10 points, six rebounds and six assists.
Merrill is currently tied with Marshfield and SPASH for the top spot in conference. The Jays will face off against SPASH tomorrow night at 7:15 p.m. in Merrill. To take the conference title the Jays will have to beat SPASH, then beat Wausau East on Thursday, ensuring them at least a tie for first place in conference. Merrill will be outright champs if Marshfield tops SPASH on Thursday night and the Jays win both games.