Merrill Varsity Boys Basketball players put two in the win column last week

Senior Carter Baade scores on a drive to the hoop. Joseph Frederick photo.


The Merrill Bluejays Boys Varsity Basketball Team was at Wisconsin Rapids on Jan. 29 for a game against Wisconsin Rapids Lincoln, and the Red Raiders took the win on that one. Merrill was down 20-26 at halftime and lost with a final score of 51-64. “We started our busy two-week stretch at Rapids and played alright for the most part,” said Troy Pieper, Merrill Varsity Boys Basketball Head Coach. “I liked how we played on defense.”
“We didn’t take care of the ball the best,” he said, “But the main factor in the game was the free throw shooting. It might have been the most lopsided free throw attempts in a game that I can remember as a coach.”
“Rapids was 21-26, while we only went to the charity stripe 5 times making 4,” Pieper said. “I think both teams were aggressive.”
“It was a frustrating night to say the least,” he said. “So many guys in foul trouble (five guys with 4 or 5 fouls each) makes finding any flow very difficult.”
“We are getting closer to putting a full game together I think,” Pieper said. “I think on defense, minus all the fouls, we executed our game plan very well.”
“EJ Weix (22 pts, 8 FG, 3 3pt, 3 FT, 2 ast, 1 stl) had a nice night with another double double,” he added. “Twenty-two points and 10 rebounds.”
Carter Baade (7 pts, 3 FG, 1 3pt, 2 ast, 1 stl) contributed seven points to the night, and Carson Woellner (6 pts, 3 FG, 1 ast) put up six points.
Box Score
Merrill 51 @ Wisconsin Rapids Lincoln 64

The boys were back on the road Jan. 30 for a game against the Antigo Red Robins. This time they brought home the win. Although they were down 14-24 at the halftime, they pulled it out in overtime to bring home a 50-49 victory for the Merrill Bluejays.
“Going on the road back-to-back nights isn’t easy,” Coach Pieper said. “And with the second night being against your rival down the road, it makes it even more tough, knowing they are going to give you all they got, and we got all they had.”
“Antigo is getting closer and closer to pulling that upset win, and tonight especially in the first half they were feeling it from deep and their mixing of their zone defenses caused us some issues and slowed the game down, and we just couldn’t buy a shot for the life of us,” he said.
“I like how we were patient against their zones,” Pieper said. “We took care of the ball and got really good looks, just couldn’t get anything to fall for most of the night until we finally got some to fall down the stretch.”
“We got down 16 in the second half, and again with it being the second game of back-to-back road games, it would have been easy for the guys to fold it up and call it a night, but they didn’t,” he said. “They just kept getting defensive stops and giving us a chance, and we just chipped away and forced overtime.”
“Not as many fouls were called as the Rapids game; however, we still did lose two guys to fouls,” Pieper said. “Tyson Ott and Carson Woellner both fouled out, so other guys had to step up and play in crunch time. We got some really big minutes off the bench from Ondre Houghton. He had three assists and hit a huge three while we were making our comeback, and his defense was awesome, which it always is. [I’m] very proud of him for how he stepped up down the stretch for us.”
“E.J. (Weix) (15 pts, 6 FG, 1 3pt, 2 FT, 2 stl) followed up his double double against Rapids with another one with 15 points and 11 rebounds, and his 15 points were hard earned as he worked in the post for us against the zone,” he said. “And it can be exhausting getting bumped and constant movement back and forth, but he did it well and did awesome.”
“Carter Baade (19 pts, 7 FG, 5 3pt, 1 stl) had a real nice night,” Pieper said. “What was most impressive is he didn’t get the shots to fall early but showed how much he’s grown and didn’t let it effect him and found his shot and finished with 22 points, including the game-winning 3 with 2 seconds left in OT.”
Jacob Schmeltzer (8 pts, 2 FG, 2 3pt, 2 FT, 2 ast, 2 stl) scored the third highest number of points in the game.
“It was a true team win tonight,” he said. “A lot of guys gave good minutes, and our defense was on point all night. It really is the reason we were able to make the big comeback.”
Box Score
Merrill 50 @ Antigo 49

Feb. 1 was a home game for Merrill, with the Elcho High School Boys Basketball Team on-site for a matchup with the Bluejays. This was another exciting win for Merrill. The Bluejays were up 37-24 at halftime and went on to win the game 77-45.
“I thought during the first half, we were sort of going through the motions,” Pieper said, “playing a team that only had six active players, and a team that we were a big favorite to win, so I think the guys just thought they would roll over, but they didn’t. Elcho played hard all night and didn’t back down a single bit, which is a credit to them and their coach.”
“The second half was better; we had much better energy,” he said. “I set a couple goals for the guys to meet in the second half and the defense was really on point more. Offensively we were really efficient tonight. we had more than one point per possession, and that is a sign of being solid and taking care of the ball and getting good shots.”
“Tyson Ott (14 pts, 5 FG, 2 3pt, 2 FT, 2 ast, 1 stl) had a nice night,” Pieper said. “He was aggressive and confident. Each game out you see it more and more; at times you forget he’s only a Freshman with some of of the stuff he can do, and the no-fear he plays with doesn’t seem like a Freshman at all.”
“Carter Baade (21 pts, 8 FG, 3 3pt, 2 FT, 5 ast, 6 stl) followed his 19-point performance against Antigo with another very solid effort, scoring 21 points and dishing out 5 assists,” he said.
Jacob Schmeltzer (8 pts, 3 FG, 2 3pt, 1 ast, 1 stl) was the third highest scorer of the night with eight points.
“A lot of guys got minutes tonight and contributed. Eli Burtman (Sophomore) got his first Varsity points of his career; it was good to see him get some good minutes down the stretch. We will really be counting on him a lot next year to have a much bigger role and to get minutes here and there this year will only help with his development.”
Box Score
Elcho 45 @ Merrill 77

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