Merrill Varsity Boys break their six-game losing streak with a home win on HOF Night


The Boys Varsity Basketball Team traveled to Wausau West last Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024, to play the Warriors and the Warriors took the win that time around.
By the end of the first half, the Bluejays were down 23-35, and it didn’t get any easier in the second half.
“We struggled on defense tonight, especially in the second half,” said Troy Pieper, Boys Varsity Basketball Head Coach. “Our shooting struggles continued, as well. West is a very good defensive team, they play very aggressive, and they caused us some issues tonight. We will get it figured out, I’m confident of that; it’s just a matter of time.”
Ever focused on the positives and encouraging his team to overcome their setbacks, Pieper still found reason to celebrate despite the 84-62 loss to Wausau West.
“Cooper Wendorf got his first Varsity points, which was one positive from the night,” he said. “He just recently came back from an injured hand that had him out all year until now. He’s been chomping at the bit to get out there, so it was nice for him to get his first Varsity points, scoring nine in the second half.”
Point leaders for the Bluejays were #2 Carter Baade (15 pts, 6 FG, 1 3pt, 1 FT, 4 ast, 1 stl), #5 Aidan Houghton (9 pts, 4 FG, 1 3pt, 1 ast), #13 Tyson Ott (9 pts, 2 FG, 1 3pt, 4 FT, 1 ast, 1 stl), and as previously mentioned, #22 Cooper Wendorf (9 pts, 2 FG, 1 3pt, 4 FT, 1 ast). Of particular note, Wendorf delivered up all this in just 8 minutes of game play and scored 100% of his free throw attempts.
Box Score
Merrill 62 @ Wausau West 84

On Saturday, Jan. 27, the Merrill Bluejays played host to the Wausau Newman Fighting Cardinals, and this time the Bluejays were up for the fight. It probably didn’t hurt that attendance and school spirit for the Merrill Bluejays was bolstered by the fact that Saturday was Hall of Fame (HOF) Night for the Merrill Basketball Program.
“Hall of Fame Night brings one of our best crowds of the season,” Pieper said, “And it was a great atmosphere for both the Girls and Boys games. It was a great night celebrating and honoring four well deserving people as they got introduced and inducted into the Merrill Basketball HOF.”
“Last year we lost on HOF night, which hurt a bit,” he said. “It’s nice to win on these special nights. Tonight we got the win, which made the night that much better.”
Taking a look at the game itself, “It wasn’t our cleanest game, especially on the defensive side as we struggled to contain their quick guards, as we had a few on ball breakdowns as well as weakside help breakdowns,” Pieper said, “but the energy and effort were there tonight, [Now we] just need to get the last ‘E’ which is execution.”
It was, however, a great night for the offense, he noted. Merrill was up 42-31 at the end of the first half. “It was one of our best nights on offense, which was nice to see,” he said. “We were very efficient and moved the ball well and moved without the ball really well. we shot 63% on the night inside the 3-point line, our 3-point shot didn’t fall as well yet, which I think will improve if we continue to move and work together on offense like we did tonight.”
Both teams put up 30 points each in the second half.
“After games getting postponed and dealing with a six-game losing streak, we just needed a win,” Pieper said. “We won’t apologize for any wins. We will take any win we can get, and it felt so nice to get back on track. Now we have a busy week coming up. We play Monday at Rapids, Tuesday at Antigo, and Thursday at home vs Elcho.”
Regarding specific players and their contributions, “I thought Tyson Ott (18 pts, 6 FG, 2 3pt, 4 FT, 1 ast) and E.J. Weix (26 pts, 10 FG, 1 3pt, 5 FT, 1 ast) were very efficient and good tonight,” he said. “Tyson had his career high with 18 points, and E.J. was dominating all night, scoring 26 while shooting 10-15 from the field.”
“Carter Baade (13 pts, 5 FG, 2 3pt, 1 FT, 3 ast, 3 stl) also finished in double figures with 13,” Pieper said. “Getting three guys in double figures is very much a positive.”
Another player of note: “I thought Carson Woellner (4 pts, 2 FG, 3 ast, 2 stl) gave awesome minutes tonight,” he said. “He was moving great without the ball, he was making great cuts, and his energy was off the charts tonight. When we get that sort of energy from Carson, we are just a much better team as a whole.”
Box Score
Wausau Newman 61 @ Merrill 72

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