Merrill wins first ever WVC title
By Jared Schmeltzer
On Thursday night the Merrill boys basketball team traveled to Wausau East for their final regular season game of the season. The Jays would take a 67-43 victory to secure their first Wisconsin Valley Conference title in school history.
Coach Jake Schalow points to defense as their driving force in the first half, “Defensively we did a great job of being in position early, playing without fouling, and rotating to the help side early. We took away some of the looks that East was trying to get in the post because of our backside help. A lot of credit to our players who picked up the rotations on a pretty short turn around after playing SPASH on Tuesday.”
The first half saw Merrill build their lead, outscoring the Lumberjacks 36-27. Quinn Steckbauer led the way, scoring 13 points in the half. Michael Casper did his part as well, also scoring 13 first half points.
In the second half Merrill built on their lead as they scored 31 to the Lumberjacks’ 16, on their way to the 67-43 victory.
Coach Schalow was very happy with his team saying, “I am really proud of our team for being able to check off our first goal of the season in bringing home our schools first boys basketball conference championship. I am so happy for our players to be rewarded for all of their hard work and commitment both in season and out of season. I cannot say enough about the work ethic and competitiveness of our team, and I am happy that we were able to clinch the conference. It was a really special night.”
Casper led the Jays in scoring with 21 points in the game. Casper also had four rebounds, two assists and two steals. Steckbauer finished the game with 15 points, five rebounds, eight assists and four steals. Kordell Renken would end his night with 13 points, eight rebounds, three assists and a block.
Merrill end the regular season with a record of 18-4 and conference record of 10-2. Merrill will share the WVC title with Marshfield who also finished with a 10-2 conference record.
The Jays will have a one seed in the upcoming division two playoffs and on Friday, March 1, will host the winner of Lakeland and Medford at 7:15 p.m.