Marshfield’s Ethan Posteluk puts up a shot in front of Merrill defenders Zach Mootz, left, Kade Bonnell, middle, and Jared Ollhoff during a Wisconsin Valley Conference game Tuesday night at Marshfield High School. Merrill won 65-62. (Photo by Paul Lecker/MarshfieldAreaSports.com)
This story is sponsored by: WDLB-AM 1450 and WOSQ-FM 92.3 radio
By Paul Lecker
MARSHFIELD – Back on Dec. 20, the Marshfield and Merrill boys basketball teams needed two overtimes to decide a winner, with the Bluejays coming away with a two-point win.
Tuesday’s rematch between the two Wisconsin Valley Conference teams didn’t need an extra period, but it was another tight one.
Merrill shot 60 percent from the floor and held off a late run by Marshfield to beat the Tigers 65-62, completing the season sweep of the WVC series at Marshfield High School.
Coming off a 30-point win against Wisconsin Rapids last Friday, Marshfield coach Scott Scheuer was hoping for a better performance from the Tigers.
“Physically, they (Merrill) play really hard,” Scheuer said. “Teams that don’t play hard on every possession get beat. I don’t know if we played hard, we didn’t make free throws (10 of 15), we turned the ball over, we didn’t get loose balls…all the little things.
“You shoot the ball consistently, that’s a sign of a really good team. If you’re not shooting it well, the other things have to fall into place – making free throws, finishing in the lane, getting the loose balls. We couldn’t defend, we couldn’t put the ball in the basket and that’s what happens.”
There were eight lead changes in the first half as Marshfield held a slim 34-33 lead at halftime.
The lead changed hands four more times in the second half before the Bluejays (8-7, 4-4 Wisconsin Valley Conference) pulled ahead for good midway through.
Marshfield (7-8, 4-4 Wisconsin Valley Conference) went more than 5 minutes without a field goal and Merrill turned a two-point deficit into a 46-41 lead after a 3-pointer by Zach Mootz and a basket by Kordell Renken.
Ethan Posteluk responded with a 3-point for Marshfield to end the drought, and he later scored on a drive to the basket to cut Merrill’s lead to 5-49,but that was as close as the Tigers would get.
Sophomore guard Quinn Steckbauer, who had a game-high 23 points, converted a three-point play and drilled a 3-point jumper to put Merrill back on top by seven with 5:55 to go.
Merrill missed four of seven free throw attempts to help the Tigers stay in the game. A basket by Seth Anderson, who led Marshfield with 16 points, and Posteluk’s second 3-pointer cut it to 63-62 in the final minute.
Steckbauer converted two free throws with 14.4 seconds left and Merrill blocked a 3-point attempt by Posteluk at the buzzer to survive.
“To have a 3 at the end to tie, you just can’t have that,” Scheuer said. “You have to take care of business before that. It’s disappointing, especially after the way we’ve been playing. I was kind of worried after Friday because things came so easy, but when you’re up by 20 or 30, it is pretty easy to shoot. We have to get things corrected before Friday (at D.C. Everest).”
Friday’s game at Everest will be broadcast on WDLB-AM 1450 and wdlbwosq.com.
Bluejays 65, Tigers 62
Merrill 33 32 – 65
Marshfield 34 28 – 62
MERRILL (65): Kade Bonnell 2-5 0-1 4, Quinn Steckbauer 8-14 3-3 23, Zach Mootz 4-5 5-7 14, Ben Tabor 2-3 1-2 3, Chase Bonnell 1-4 0-0 2, Jared Ollhoff 4-4 0-0 8, Kordell Renken 4-6 0-0 9, Jon Gruetzmacher 1-2 0-2 2. FG: 26-43. FT: 9-15. 3-pointers: 6-14 (Steckbauer 4-6, Renken 1-1, Mootz 1-2, K. Bonnell 0-1, C. Bonnell 0-2, Tabor 0-2). Rebounds: 25 (Ollhoff 6). Turnovers: 9. Fouls: 13. Fouled out: none. Record: 8-7, 3-5 Wisconsin Valley Conference.
MARSHFIELD (62): Ethan Posteluk 6-13 1-3 15, Brant Bohman 0-0 0-0 0, Seth Anderson 5-10 6-7 16, Reed Miller 4-8 3-5 14, Alec Hinson 1-6 0-0 3, Grant Michaelis 5-7 0-0 10, Isaac Meverden 0-0 0-0 0, Nathan McGrath 0-0 0-0 0, Adam Hauge 0-0 0-0 0, Nick Stewart 2-3 0-0 4. FG: 23-47. FT: 10-15. 3-pointers: 6-20 (Miller 3-6, Posteluk 2-6, Hinson 1-5, Michaelis 0-2, Hauge 0-1). Rebounds: 24 (Anderson 6, Miller 6). Turnovers: 8. Fouls: 15. Fouled out: none. Record: 7-8, 4-4 Wisconsin Valley Conference.