High school teams can usually count on senior leadership.
Once in a while, however, freshman leadership comes into play.
That’s what happened Tuesday, Feb. 28, as Brando Vasquez, playing in his first tournament basketball game, helped lead the Waupaca Comets to a 49-46 win over New London in a Division 2 subregional.
The Comets, a team that won only four games during the regular season, were seeded 10th in their tournament bracket, while the Bulldogs were a No. 7 seed.
Vasquez scored a game-high 22 points. He hit four three-pointers in the first half alone, including a three-quarter court shot at the end of the first half that gave Waupaca a 25-20 lead at the break.
Waupaca took its biggest lead of the game – 39-33 – on Nate Christian’s three-pointer late in the third quarter. The Comets led 39-35 heading into the fourth quarter and led 46-43 with a minute remaining. New London’s Tyler Wenzel cut the lead to 47-46 with a three-pointer with 10 seconds remaining, but Eric Schoohs scored with four seconds left to put the Comets up by three.
Wenzel’s three-point attempt bounced off the rim at the buzzer and the Comets won their opening tournament game for the second year in a row.
Schoohs finished with eight points for Waupaca, while Nate Jenson added eight.
Jacob Pinch and Chris Steingraber led New London with 14 and 13 points, respectively.
Waupaca advanced to a regional semifinal at 7 p.m. Friday, March 2, at Rhinelander against the second-seeded Hodags. The Hodags are 15-6 and finished second behind Antigo in the Great Northern Conference.