Merrill Boys Basketball Team kicks off season with a loss and a win
TINA L. SCOTT
The first game of the Merrill Varsity Boys Basketball season was scheduled for Nov. 29, 2022, at Lakeland but was postponed due to bad weather and will be made up on Jan. 26, 2023.
For the second scheduled game, but first game actually played, the Merrill Bluejays traveled to Mosinee to take on the Indians on Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022. “It was a rough start getting down double figures early, we couldn’t really get going and didn’t build enough stops to get back in the game,” said Troy Pieper, Merrill Head Boys Basketball Coach.
“Mosinee is an experienced team and brought back the majority of their team from last year, so they are picking up where they left off last year, while we have a lot of new Varsity guys who are trying to get used to the speed of the game and find their role. Sometimes this can take a few games before we find our rotations and everyone becomes fully comfortable. Tonight we just didn’t match their energy consistently,” he said.
“I thought offensively we got shots we wanted to get. I liked our patience on the offensive end; we just didn’t get shots to fall. However, on the defensive side of things, we need to improve–we need to execute on that end a little better, and I’m confident we will.”
“I thought Bradyn (Pieper) had a nice start to the year on the offensive side,” Coach Pieper said. “He let the game come to him, as they had their best defender on him, but he didn’t force it and just let things come to him. I’m guessing he’d probably want to shoot a little better, but he led us tonight with 16, and I liked how he let the game come to him.”
Leading scorers for the game were Bradyn Pieper with 16 points, Troy Mootz with 12 points, and Tyson Glisch with another 12 points.
Ultimately, Mosinee celebrated a home-court win.
Merrill 51 @ Mosinee 79
On Saturday, Dec. 3, the Merrill Boys traveled to play LaCrescent Hokah (Minn.) at Just A Game Fieldhouse in Wisconsin Dells and brought home a narrow but well-earned, energetic, and exciting victory.
“I loved the energy we started with,” Coach Pieper said. “We were patient on offense and getting great looks, and our defense was locked in. We forced them to match our energy at the start. We got out to an 18-4 lead early.”
“One thing we will focus on in practice is staying consistent with getting great shots,” he said. “I thought after our fast start we started to rush some shots and force things a little bit, and it allowed them to get back in the game. We were up 22-14 at the half.”
“Tonight our defense for the most part, from start to finish, was as good as we’ve been on that end in the three years since I’ve been here,” Pieper said. “We were really playing good team defense, and for having less height, we did a very good job limiting their second chance points. Our defense kept us in this game.”
“In the second half, we really couldn’t get much going on the offensive end, but our defense was key to giving us a chance, and we executed great down the stretch to find a way, and the final possession the guys executed perfectly out of the timeout. Tyson (Glisch) set a high screen for Bradyn (Pieper), and Bradyn made a great read and hit Troy (Mootz) in the corner for the game winning three.”
“Tyson got us going early,” he said. “He hit three 3’s early to sort of get us going, his energy and effort on defense all night was what made me most proud tonight, and he really did a great job on the glass.”
“Croix Woller played his best game of his Varsity career,” Pieper said. “He was aggressive on both ends of the floor. I really liked how he played tonight. He shot it well, and he battled on the boards and limiting their big guy on the defensive end, too.”
“Troy (Mootz) did a great job attacking all night. It was a pretty physical game, and most games I think he would have been on the free throw line a lot more on a normal night, but they let a lot go, and I was proud how he played through the contact and didn’t get frustrated. And because he just kept playing, he stayed confident and hit the game winning three. Like Tyson, I think Troy’s defense was off the charts great tonight. We don’t win if he doesn’t play like he did on the defensive end tonight. He shut down their best player and really got him frustrated. Their leading scorer from last year could only manage nine points, and it was mostly because of Troy’s defense tonight.”
Leading scorers in the game were Tyson Glisch with 13, Croix Woller with 12, and Troy Mootz with 10.
Merrill 42 @ LaCrescent Hokah 41