Not playing a game for two weeks is apparently what the Waupaca girls’ basketball team needed.
The Comets handed Ripon a 58-21 Eastern Valley Conference loss Jan. 4. It was the first time the team had played in front of a crowd since a 50-35 win Dec. 21 at Freedom.
Ripon, which is not fielding a freshman or junior varsity team this season, has a roster that includes six freshman and four sophomores.
“Whenever you have a came like this where there’s no JV game, you never know how kids are going to respond, if there going to come out with that fire or if the change in routine’s going to give them a little bit of a hiccup,” coach Brandon Temperly said. “We brought that intensity and we talked about playing for four quarters. We did that tonight.”
The Comets set the tone on offense with a 23-point second quarter and a defense that didn’t allow the Tigers to score more than seven points in a quarter. Waupaca led 14-6 after one quarter, 37-13 at halftime and 51-18 after three quarters.
“I thought our rebounding was the best all season long,” Temperly said. “I’m very proud of that effort.”
Mikaila Johnson led Waupaca with 15 points, while Morgan Smith added 14 and Sierra Patzke finished with 10. Shannon McNeil led Ripon with nine.
Although the Comets didn’t have any games scheduled during the Christmas break, the team did practice with former players, according to Temperly.
“As soon as the girls start getting into their college break in the middle and end of December, I get calls saying, ‘Coach, when can we come in?’ he said. “We’ve had a number of former players come in and I love having those players there. We’ve even had a couple guys come practice with us. They’ve been through the battles and they also have a couple years of perspective. Our girls really enjoy having those alumni there. It helps. Our girls like rising to that challenge.”
The Comets have another challenge this weekend, as they host two-time defending Division 2 state champion New London at 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 12. The Bulldogs have defeated the Comets several times over the years, including in the state tournament.
“They’re in our regional, so we’d like to make a statement that says, ‘Hey, you have to come through us, too, just like we have to go through you,'” Temperly said. “They’ve got a very good squad and I’m glad we have a shot at them.”
Before facing the Bulldogs, however, the Comets have to go to Clintonville today (Thursday, Jan. 10) for a 7:15 p.m. EVC matchup with the Truckers.
“They’re a sneaky team because they’re always so long,” Temperly said. “It seems like every year, they have four or five 5-10 girls. They run that zone, so we have to be prepared for it. We’ll definitely take no one lightly and we didn’t do that tonight.”