The winning streak now stands at two.
After starting the season with six straight losses, the Waupaca Comet girls’ basketball team is now 2-3 in the Eastern Valley Conference following recent wins over Clintonville and Ripon.
The Comets handed Clintonville a 53-26 loss Friday, Jan. 6, three days after topping Ripon 68-53.
Waupaca 53, Clintonville 26
CLINTONVILLE – Waupaca outscored the Truckers 22-4 in the third quarter and held Clintonville to four or fewer points in three of the periods.
Waupaca led 15-4 after one quarter, but Clintonville came back to cut the deficit to 23-19 at halftime. Waupaca led 45-23 heading into the fourth quarter and outscored the home team 8-3 over the final eight minutes.
Katie Barlow led Waupaca with 15 points, while Alta Littrel added 11 points and eight rebounds.
Stacy Reinke led Clintonville with nine points.
Waupaca 68, Ripon 53
WAUPACA – Mikaila Johnson was one of three Comets to score in double figures, as she finished with 20 points.
Scoring honors, however, went to Ripon’s Taylor VanderPlas, who scored 31.
“We wanted to keep her under her average of 17 (points a game), but we made enough plays on the offensive end and forced them to make enough decisions on their offensive end,” coach Brandon Temperly said. “I thought we did a nice job on her in the first half and at least made her work for every score. For a while in the third and fourth (quarters), those catches she got were pretty easy. They were open looks and in rhythm. When you let a player like that get rhythm looks, they’re going to put the ball in the basket. Luckily, we made enough plays.”
Waupaca never trailed in the game and led 11-9 after one quarter, 29-19 at halftime and 51-35 after three quarters.
The Comets led by as many as 18 points in the second half, but VanderPlas kept the Tigers in striking distance with 20 points – a dozen of them on four three-pointers – in the half.
“I’ve never been in a game where I was so uncomfortable with a 15- to 18-point lead,” Temperly said. “We’re not a team that can just grind it out and take care of the ball for 40-second possessions and get a layup. That’s something we’re going to need to get to so we can play with a lead, stretch leads out and really get comfortable.”
Waupaca opened second quarter with a 13-0 run that snapped an 11-11 tie and Ripon never got any closer than nine the rest of the way. Ripon came up with a 9-0 run late in the third quarter that cut the lead to 44-35.
“We hit big shot after big shot,” Temperly said. “They put in a lot of time after practice, the last week especially. It paid off.”
Johnson’s career-high 20 points included three threes and five of six free throw attempts.
“She made big play after big play,” Temperly said. “We put her in good situations where she could get those open looks. Mikaila gets a lot of glory tonight because she put the ball in the hole, but I thought all the girls passed the ball well. At times, our movement were fantastic.”
Barlow chipped in with 16 points, including a buzzer-beating three at the end of the third quarter, while Lexie Marringa finished with 11.
Temperly plans on working on defense during his team’s upcoming practices before the Comets host Freedom at 7:15 tonight (Thursday, Jan. 12).
“Giving up 53 points, that’s still not where we need to be,” he said. “We’re not going to win a majority of our games if we’re giving up that much. I know the girls can do it, but can we do it for 32 minutes?
“The biggest thing for me is getting better on defensive rebounds,” he added. “That’s where we got a lot of fouls and that’s where they scored a good amount of their points. That’s one of the things we have to work on.”