Hitting shots was not a problem for the Waupaca boys’ basketball team against Winneconne.
Hitting free throws? Well, don’t be surprised if the Comets spend some extra time this week in practice at the line.
The Comets shot 57 percent from the floor, but connected on only nine of 22 free-throw attempts Dec. 10 in a 77-75 double-overtime loss to the Wolves.
Waupaca also picked up recent wins over Ripon and New London and dropped an Eastern Valley Conference game to Fox Valley Lutheran.
Winneconne 77, Waupaca 75 (2 OT)
WAUPACA – The Comets rebounded from a shaky start only to have Winneconne take the lead for good with 4 seconds to go in the second overtime.
“I was pleased with the way we recovered from a very, very disappointing 12 minutes to start the game,” coach Ron Weber said. “I didn’t recognize the team that was out there. Our personality is to move the ball quickly around the perimeter, get the defense moving and play inside-out to get our post guys moving. I didn’t think we had passion. We weren’t doing the things we had worked on.”
Winneconne – especially Dylan Hecker – took advantage of the Waupaca’s slow start and scored 17 of his game-high 22 points in the first half.
The Wolves built a 12-point lead in the second quarter, but Waupaca ended the half with a 9-3 run to cut the lead to 38-31 at the break.
Winneconne scored eight of the first 10 points of the third quarter to get the lead back to 13 and Zach Horn’s three-pointer gave the Wolves a 52-40 lead.
Waupaca then went on a 19-1 run that continued into the fourth quarter. Bryce Neidert hit a pair of threes to start the fourth quarter to help the Comets take a 59-53 lead. Winneconne chipped away at the lead and Riley Kallas hit a pair of free throws with 14.3 seconds remaining to give the Wolves a 67-64 lead. However, Zander Neuville’s three tied the game with 3 seconds remaining to force overtime.
Both teams scored three points in the first four-minute overtime period. A Brando Vasquez basket gave Waupaca a 75-73 lead in the second overtime, but Horn hit a pair of free throws and Kallas gave the Wolves the lead for good with 8 seconds to go.
The Comets had time to set up for a final shot, but Neidert’s three bounced off of the rim at the buzzer.
While the Comets struggled at the line, Winneconne hit 22 of their 30 attempts.
“That’s what the game came down to,” Weber said. “The other thing that sticks out in my mind is how the game was called. They ended up with a starter on the bench (Hecker) with five (fouls). We ended up with Brando on the bench with five. I think we had three guys on the floor with four fouls at the end.”
Neuville led Waupaca with 21 points, while Vasquez added 16 and Nate Jenson finished with 10.
“The crew that was in there got us back in the game,” Weber said. “We went in (at halftime) down by seven and it could have been 15, 18. It was a dogfight from there.
“They have some very good players that we couldn’t guard,”he said. “Then you go to a zone on them and they shoot well, so you can’t sit in a zone. You have to give them credit. They won the game and our kids will learn from it.”
Waupaca 63, Ripon 56
WAUPACA – Waupaca led 14-11 after one quarter, 24-23 at halftime and 45-43 after three quarters Dec. 8 before outscoring the Tigers 18-13 over the final eight minutes.
Vasquez led all scorers with 21 points, while Jenson and Neuville finished in double figures with 12 and 11, respectively. Riley Haas led Ripon with 14.
FVL 70, Waupaca 55
APPLETON – Nine three-pointers helped the Foxes pull way from the Comets Dec. 6.
Waupaca outscored FVL 19-18 in the opening quarter, but the Foxes led 31-28 at halftime and 50-44 heading into the fourth quarter.
“Some kids stepped up for them and shot really well,” Weber said. “Sometimes, that happens on a home court. We couldn’t get over the hump. We were hanging right there.”
Jenson led Waupaca with 18 points, while Neuville chipped in with 17. Four players finished in double figures for FVL, as Joshua Knoepke led the way with 18.
Waupaca 79, New London 75
NEW LONDON – The offense came to life for the Comets on the Bulldogs’ home court Dec. 3, as Vasquez and Jenson led Waupaca with 32 and 24 points, respectively.
New London outscored Waupaca 25-12 in the first quarter, but the Comets responded with a 25-17 advantage in the second quarter to cut the halftime lead to 42-37.
The points kept piling up in the third and fourth quarters, as Waupaca scored 21 in each period while the Bulldogs came up with 15 in the third and 18 in the fourth.
Vasquez connected on five of his seven three-pointers in the second quarter alone, while Jenson scored 18 of his points in the second half.
Vasquez sank a pair of free throws in the final minute and James Camann added another to help Waupaca get its first win.
Chris Steingraber led New London with 17 points.
Waupaca will host Berlin at 7:15 p.m. Friday, Dec. 14, in an Eastern Valley Conference matchup. The Indians are led by Creighton recruit Toby Hegner.
“Hegner is a 6-9, Division 1, inside-outside, really good player,” Weber said. “I’ll get film and come up with a strategy to try and stop him.”