Close, but not quite.
The Waupaca Comet boys’ basketball team came up on the short end of a 55-49 score Friday, Dec. 3, in Winneconne while going up against one of the state’s top scorers and one of the favorites in the Eastern Valley Conference.
Waupaca also opened conference play Tuesday, Nov. 30, with a 66-40 loss at Little Chute.
Winneconne 55, Waupaca 49
The Wolves’ Austin Ryf finished with a game-high 20 points, but didn’t score in the fourth quarter.
Waupaca trailed 18-13 heading into the second quarter, but outscored the home team 18-10 in the second quarter to take a 31-28 halftime lead.
The Wolves opened the third quarter with baskets from Ryf and Billy Koeck to take the lead for good. Winneconne led 46-41 heading into the fourth quarter and outscored the Comets 9-8 over the final eight minutes.
“We don’t like to talk about moral victories and feeling good after a loss, but what I told the kids is we’ve got to build on this,” coach Ron Weber said. “You came into their gym and played them toe to toe. If things had gone right, you had a chance to possibly pull it out. That’s really progress for this club.”
Adam Kaminske led Waupaca with 19 points, but like Ryf, didn’t score in the fourth quarter.
“The second thing I said was, ‘Bench, you’ve got to come in and give us something,'” Weber said. “I lost confidence because they didn’t handle the ball against that pressure when we went to our bench. Our perimeter guys off the bench didn’t do the job and that made our starters play way too many minutes, I think it would have been a little closer. Would we have won? I’m not sure, but we would’ve hung in there a little better.
“I have to give our starters some credit for showing some toughness,” he added. “They were tired and battling that pressure that Winneconne loves to play and really hung in there nicely.”
Nate Jenson and Juanito Vasquez added seven points each for the Comets.
Little Chute 66, Waupaca 40
The Mustangs outscored the Comets 28-9 in the first quarter, led 43-16 at halftime and had a 13-8 advantage in the third quarter.
Kaminske led Waupaca with 13 points, while Nate Christian and Eric Schoohs added six each.
Rick Hammen scored 15 points to led Little Chute.
Waupaca will host Appleton Xavier at 7:15 tonight (Thursday, Dec. 9). Weber hopes his team’s effort in Winneconne will help against the Hawks.
“This got us a little preparation for what we’re going to see against Xavier,” he said. “Hopefully, we can watch film and set up skills for the kids. This has to give our kids a lot of confidence.”