The three-point shot was working for the Waupaca boys’ basketball team against Fox Valley Lutheran.
The Comets’ defense down the stretch wasn’t however.
Derek Ashman’s layup with 7 seconds remaining turned out to be the difference Jan. 25 in FVL’s 53-51 Eastern Valley Conference win over the Comets.
Waupaca also fell to Little Chute 53-34 Jan. 22.
FVL 53, Waupaca 51
WAUPACA – Waupaca connected on eight threes and hit nine of 10 free throws, but still came up short.
The Comets led 15-11 after one quarter and 32-31 at halftime, but the Foxes scored the first eight points of the third quarter and took a 42-40 lead into the final period.
Zander Neuville gave the Comets a 44-42 lead with a pair of free throws early in the fourth quarter, but that turned out to be Waupaca’s final lead of the game.
The Comets were able to tie the game three times later in the quarter, but the Foxes never let the lead slip away. FVL was able to run more than a minute off of the clock until Ashman’s layup broke a 51-51 tie.
The Comets regrouped to call a play, but Brando Vasquez’s shot at the buzzer was off the mark.
“If we’re down by one or two on that particular play, you attack the rim because they don’t want to foul,” coach Ron Weber said. “I don’t know if they did or not. (Vasquez) can get there. The next step for him is he has to take it to the rim strong. Then, you’ll get the foul.”
The game didn’t come down to that final shot, according to Weber.
“We didn’t get stops, we didn’t defend well,” he said. “That’s the step you have to take as a varsity team. When it’s crunch time, fourth quarter, late, you have to get some stops. That’s what it comes down to. We just simply did not do that.
“We talked the last couple days about this being our statement game, so we really put a lot of emotion into tonight,” he added. “I believed and I know the kids believed that we could pull it out. We really felt we could beat this team. It’s disheartening because I want something good to happen to them because it’s been tough up to this point.”
FVL switched to a zone defense in the second half and were able to take Neuville and Vasquez out of the game. Both players had 12 points at halftime, but the pair were held to a combined five points in the second half. Vasquez led Waupaca with 15 points, while Neuville finished with 14. Ashman led all scorers with 19.
“Your opponent is going to go to their best players in crunch time,” Weber said. “They’re going to try to take over games. That’s where they’re going and you have to have good enough defenders to stop their best players. We didn’t do it down the stretch.
“I think we definitely took a step playing an 8-3 team in our league to the bitter end, but we didn’t quite take the step that we wanted,” he said. “That’s the cloud hanging over my head right now.”
Little Chute 53, Waupaca 34
LITTLE CHUTE – The Mustangs, ranked second in Division 3 in the latest state poll, outscored the Comets 33-9 over the second and third periods to take control of the game.
Little Chute led 13-12 after one quarter, but had a 31-19 lead at halftime and took a 46-21 lead into the fourth quarter.
Neuville led the Comets with 18 points, while Turner Botz and Kenneth Lowe scored 18 each to lead Little Chute.
The Comets played at Winneconne Jan. 29 and will head to Berlin Tuesday, Feb. 5, before hosting Wausau West Friday, Feb. 8.