It was a case of too little, too late for the Waupaca Comet boys’ basketball team.
The Comets hit only three shots in the first half Monday, Jan. 16, in a 41-33 loss to Freedom in an Eastern Valley Conference matchup. Waupaca also overcame a late eight-point deficit Tuesday, Jan. 10, and knocked off Clintonville 45-43.
Freedom 41, Waupaca 33
FREEDOM – Waupaca trailed 11-4 after one quarter and 19-8 at halftime, but turned it around in the second half. The Comets outscored the Irish 10-4 in the third quarter and cut the lead to 25-23 early in the fourth quarter on an Eric Schoohs basket.
However, Freedom’s Craig Schommer quickly pushed the lead back to five on his team’s next possession with one of his four three-pointers on the night. He hit another to spark a 10-2 run for the Irish and Waupaca never got any closer than seven points the rest of the way.
Schommer turned out to be the game’s only player in double figures, as he finished with 14. Kevin Moe led Waupaca with nine second-half points, while Nate Jenson chipped in with eight.
The Irish outrebounded the Comets 32-23 and pulled down 17 offensive boards.
Waupaca 45, Clintonville 43
WAUPACA – The Comets led for only 39 seconds of the game, but it turned out to be the right time.
Clintonville led 14-10 after one quarter and 23-22 at halftime. The teams went into the fourth quarter tied at 30-30 and the Truckers opened the final period with a 10-2 run behind three-pointers from Aaron Ziemer and Aaron Schmidt.
Schmidt’s three gave the Truckers a 40-32 lead with about four minutes remaining, but the Comets responded with a pair of Nate Jenson baskets and one from Eric Schoohs to cut the lead to two.
Ziemer gave the Truckers a little breathing room with a three at the 1:42 mark, but those turned out to be Clintonville’s final points of the night, as Schoohs gave Waupaca its first lead – 44-43 – with a three-point play with 39 seconds to go.
Brando Vasquez forced a turnover with just under 10 seconds remaining and Zander Neuville hit a free throw to give the Comets a two-point lead.
Clintonville’s Xavier Fletcher missed a long three-pointer at the buzzer that would have given the Truckers the win.
“It wasn’t looking good when we were down by eight,” coach Ron Weber said. “All of a sudden, we hit some shots and got some stops defensively. We had some golden opportunities around the basket, but just couldn’t finish. That hurt us.”
Neuville came up with two blocked shots that led to points late in the game.
“I was really impressed with Zander,” Weber said. “He wanted to contribute on defense. We got some blocks and steals. That really brought us back and the kids played well down the stretch to hold onto that two-point lead.”
Vasquez scored nine of his game-high 12 points in the second half. Kevin Moe added nine points and Jenson and Schoohs finished with eight each. Ziemer led the Truckers with nine points, while Fletcher chipped in with eight.
“We did well, but we can get better,” Weber said. “We’re a different club. We’re competing and we’re playing better. It’s great to see.”
Waupaca will host Green Bay Notre Dame at 3 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 21, before returning to EVC play Tuesday, Jan. 24, at Winneconne.