Bluejay boys defeat Highway 64 rivals
The Bluejay boys basketball team hosted their rivals from the east on Tuesday night, Jan 21, beating Antigo on the strength of their defense. The Bluejays were able to tally 20 points off of Antigo turnovers, which would be the difference in the game as Merrill went on to win 66-58.
“I thought we were able to salvage some things on the defensive end,” said Merrill head coach Jake Schalow. “Forcing them into 24 turnovers was huge for us tonight, especially when shots were not falling and we were struggling offensively.”
Merrill came out in the first half of play fairly slow, as Antigo would lead for the majority of the first half. In the final five minutes of the first half the Bluejays would turn up the intensity and begin to make some of the shots they were missing early. A 16-4 run for the Jays brought the first half of action to a close with Merrill leading Antigo 28-16.
Both teams were able to get in more of an offensive grove in the second half of action, however Antigo was never able to threaten the Merrill lead. Midway through the second half Antigo would go on a 6-0 run, cutting the Merrill lead to six points, however the Jays were quick to respond with a run of their own to make it a double digit game yet again. The Red Robins would make one final run in the closing minutes of the game, but the Bluejays were able to hold on to thee lead and come away with the 66-58 win.
“Credit to Antigo their guys played very hard, but fortunately we were able to come out on top,” added coach Schalow, “Somehow we need to find a way to stop starting out the game sluggishly, and tonight was another night like that.”
Michael Casper led the charge for Merrill, finishing the night with 25 points, six rebounds and seven steals. Merrill’s other top performers include: Piersen Pyan (14 pts, 6 reb, 1 stl); Nathan Woller (14 pts, 2 ast, 1 reb) and Connor Mootz (5 pts, 3 reb, 4 ast).
The Bluejays will be back in action on Tuesday, Feb. 4, as they host Wausau East in a Wisconsin Valley Conference showdown. Tip-off is set for 7:15 p.m.