One comeback wasn’t good enough for the Waupaca boys’ basketball against Appleton Xavier.
Two didn’t do the trick, either.
Xavier held on for a 74-61 win Jan. 17 over the Comets in an Eastern Valley Conference rematch.
It looked early on like the Comets would be in for a long night, as the Hawks scored the game’s first nine points and took a 17-8 lead into the second quarter.
Waupaca chipped away at the lead in the second quarter, however, and eventually cut the deficit to 30-29 with less than a minute to go in the half.
The Hawks led 33-29 at the break and Waupaca took its first lead – 41-40 – with 2:29 remaining in the third quarter on a Nate Nelson free throw.
The lead didn’t last long and the Hawks went on a 19-2 run to take a 59-43 lead two minutes into the fourth quarter. The Comets never got any closer than 10 points the rest of the way.
“There were two times when this game could’ve been over and they fought back both times,” Weber said. “A big key for us is to get consistent on defense and offense. That’s not there right now. We do some really good things and all of a sudden, some of the same old things rear their ugly head again, a defensive breakdown, a turnover, things like that. I guess it’s the growing pains of a young team playing in a very, very tough, senior-dominated league.”
Zander Neuville led Waupaca with 21 points, while Nate Jenson added 10 and James Camann finished with nine. Matt Ferris led three Xavier players in double figures with 23.
“You have to give credit to the teams we’re playing,” coach Ron Weber said. “They’re a big reason we’re getting off to poor starts. Clintonville hits their first three threes and all of a sudden we look up and it’s 9-0. Today, they hit their shots early, but our kids made adjustments.”
Although the Comets are 3-13 on the season and 1-10 in EVC play, the team has picked up its game in practice, according to Weber.
“What I’m seeing real good character out of our players,” he said. “Our practices in the last week and a half to two weeks have been as good as they’ve been all year. It’s odd because here we are struggling to win a game, but yet their intensity, focus and effort has picked up in practice.
“That’s unique because a lot of teams will hang their heads with a record they’re disappointed in, not work as hard and give in to selfishness and things like that,” he added. “I’m seeing the exact opposite. I told them that if they continue to practice the way they are, things will get better.”
The Comets played without Bryce Neidert, who is nursing a shoulder injury, and had limited minutes from Alex Grall.
“We were undermanned tonight with Bryce out and Alex was not feeling well,” Weber said. “We were able put him in for short spurts. With that undermanned play, I thought our kids gave me what they had tonight.”
The Comets played at Little Chute Jan. 22 and will host Fox Valley Lutheran at 7:15 p.m. Friday, Jan. 25.