It took awhile for Conner Kraft to make his presence known.
Once, he did, however, the Green Bay Preble senior was hard to stop, as his game-high 25 points – including 17 in the second quarter alone – led the Hornets to a 48-44 nonconference boys’ basketball win over Waupaca Jan. 11.
The loss ended the Comets’ winning streak at seven and came two days after Waupaca picked up a 57-47 Eastern Valley Conference win at Freedom.
Green Bay Preble 48, Waupaca 44
WAUPACA – Cold shooting along with Kraft’s performance added up to a loss in front of a home crowd.
The Comets connected on only 13 of 40 shots in the game, including five-of-23 from behind the three-point line. One the other hand, Waupaca nearly erased a 19-point deficit and cut Preble’s lead to three points three times in the final two minutes.
“I thought we gave in to our shooting percentage,” coach Ron Weber said. “Our body language was bad, we looked like we were kind of sleepwalking and I think a lot of it had to with our poor shooting percentage.”
The Comets led 6-5 heading into the second quarter, but Kraft’s 17 points in the second quarter that included a three and a pair of three-point plays, gave the Hornets a 23-13 halftime lead.
“Conner Kraft is really good and we really didn’t have anybody that could guard him,” Weber said. “The game kind of revolved around him. If he wasn’t scoring or getting fouled, he was finding open people.”
Preble held the Comets to a pair of Daniel Turrubiates free throws in the third quarter and took a 38-21 lead into the final period.
Waupaca opened the fourth quarter with a 12-1 run that included eight points from Bryce Neidert. Nate Jenson cut Preble’s lead to 43-40 with a pair of free throws with 1:23 remaining, but Waupaca never got any closer.
“I was very pleased with our defense in the first half, but then we started to get into that mode where our shooting percentage took some of the spirit out of us and it was hard for the boys to fight through it,” Weber said. “Fortunately, we had the nice comeback and made it interesting for a nice crowd we had tonight with a lot of youth players, which was good.”
Neidert and Zander Neuville led Waupaca with 14 points each. Waupaca also rebounded the Hornets 23-14.
“It’s too bad we let one get away because we can beat this team and this is a Division 1 team coming in here at 8-3,” Weber said. “That was good for me to learn about our guys. We can compete with just about anybody, but obviously, the performance we had tonight was not acceptable.”
Waupaca 57, Freedom 47
FREEDOM – Waupaca outscored the Irish 14-13 in the first quarter and 10-9 in the second quarter to take a 24-22 halftime lead, but Freedom responded with a 15-9 advantage in the third quarter to take a 37-33 lead.
The Comets scored the first 16 points of the fourth quarter and Freedom did not hit another basket until there were three minutes left in the game.
Neuville led the Comets with 24 points, while Neidert and Brando Vasquez added 13 and 12, respectively. Andy Connelly had 13 to lead Freedom.
Waupaca hosted Ripon Jan. 14 and will head to Clintonville Friday, Jan. 17, for a 7:15 p.m. EVC rematch with the Truckers. The Comets will also play at Appleton Xavier Thursday, Jan. 23.