A promising start turned into a disappointing finish for the Waupaca Comet boys’ basketball team.
Waupaca outscored Berlin 18-9 in the first quarter, but ended up dropping a 54-48 Eastern Valley Conference game Tuesday, Dec. 20, to Berlin.
Nate Jenson, Trevor Sweeney, Nate Christian and Brando Vasquez each hit a three-pointer in the first quarter to give the Comets a nine-point lead heading into the second quarter, but Berlin returned the favor with a 20-4 advantage over the next eight minutes as Waupaca fell to 0-5 in conference play and 1-6 overall.
Berlin got a boost in the second quarter from 6-9 Toby Hegner, who came off of the bench to lead the Indians with 12 points. His three-pointer late in the second quarter, part of a 12-0 run, gave Berlin the lead for good at 24-22.
“He was definitely a factor,” coach Ron Weber said of Hegner, who is recovering from a bout of mono. “He gave them their momentum late in the second quarter. We were losing the lead and bang, bang, he scores again. He’s a factor defensively at 6-9 with his length inside. That spurt at the end of the second quarter really gave them some good momentum. We were digging from a hole and we were unable to dig out of that hole tonight.”
Waupaca cut the lead to 37-33 late in the third quarter on a Christian three-pointer, but never got any closer the rest of the way. Berlin led 40-33 after three quarters before Waupaca outscored the Indians 14-14 in the fourth quarter.
“You can analyze this thing to death,” Weber said. “If you hit shots, you play well. If you miss shots, you don’t play well. We shot well early and they shot well late in the first half and took the lead. We struggled to get our offense going and our guys just aren’t making adjustments right now.”
Vasquez led Waupaca with 15 points, while Christian added 10 and Jenson pulled down a team-high 13 rebounds. Drew Dretzke also finished in double figures for Berlin with 10 points.
“Quite honestly, I think we gave them where we’re at right now,” Weber said. I can’t fault the effort, I can’t fault the motivation of our guys. I thought they were in it as a team. It’s learning to be a basketball player by adjusting to what a defense does and reading what’s there. Berlin did a nice job of taking away some things from us. You have to adjust and find something else to go to. We’re not very good at that right now.”
The Comets played two games at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay’s Kress Center this week. Waupaca faced Shawano Tuesday, Dec. 27, and played New London Wednesday, Dec. 28. The Comets return to EVC play Thursday, Jan. 5, at Ripon.
“It takes an extraordinary young high schooler to keep working hard and saying to yourself, ‘We want to get as good as we can get, even thought we’re 0-5 in the league and have only one win on the year,'” Weber said. “That’s the real challenge and I’m hoping the guys respond. The effort has to be there. It’s a real reward if we can pull off a couple wins because then you can really admire what these guys have done this year.”