All Iola-Scandinavia boys’ basketball coach Sam Bertsch was looking for from his Thunderbirds was an improvement from the last time on the court.
He got what he was looking for, as the T-Birds improved to 4-2 in Central Wisconsin 8 Conference play Jan. 17 with a 59-41 win over Weyauwega-Fremont.
The game was the first time the T-Birds had played since a 61-49 loss to Amherst Jan. 10.
“We talked about that in practice,” Bertsch said. “If we’re going to be a better team, there are things we have to improve upon from the last game. A sign of a good team is to correct some things and play better the next night. I think we did that.”
Weyauwega-Fremont played most of the game without its leading scorer, Lincoln VanCuick. He went down with a knee injury 1:30 into the game and didn’t return.
“It changed the dynamics (of the game),” W-F coach Andy Schroeder said. “We do best when we have three main scorers and Lincoln’s the big one of those three. It totally changed.”
“We had to take advantage of the situation of one of the better players in the conference going down,” Bertsch said. “You feel bad for the kid, but at the same time, you can’t feel sorry. It’s still a game and you have to be competitive.”
The T-Birds took a 13-9 lead into the second quarter, but began to pull away with a 21-8 advantage to take a 34-17 lead at halftime.
While the Indians carried on without VanCuick, the T-Birds played most of the first half without starter Kristian Welch, who came into the game averaging just over 12 points a game. He picked up two early fouls and finished with six points.
“Kristian going out was a factor for us, too, but I think we had guys step it up for us,” Bertsch said. “We put up 34 in the first half and held them to 17. I liked what we did on offense by attacking the basket close to the hoops. We didn’t do that in the Amherst game as much. Holding them to 17, I like that.”
I-S outscored the Indians 10-8 in the third quarter and W-F had a 16-15 advantage over the final eight minutes. The T-Birds led by as many as 26 points late in the game.
The T-Birds took advantage of trips to the free-throw line, as they hit 23 of 33 attempts. The Indians hit eight of 13.
Connor Lodewegen led the T-Birds with 16 points, while Aaron Schroeder led the Indians with 15. John Prahl also had 10 for the T-Birds.
The T-Birds were able to take advantage of their depth, which includes Caleb Loken, Braiden Garbe and Tanner Krusa.
“Practices are fun because we put out a lot of good guys,” Bertsch said. “We suited up nine tonight and I have faith in all nine of those guys to throw in when we need them.”
He said the T-Birds will also play the rest of the season without post player Issac Lashua, who has been bothered by hand injury from the final football game.
Schroeder said he was happy with how his team was able to stay within striking distance for much of the game.
“I talked to the bench about how everyone needed to show their responsibility for this game and they all did,” he said. “I’ve been talking to (Aaron) the last few games. I said, ‘You need to step up.’ He’s held back for a few games, so that was great to see.”
Both teams will be in action at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 24. The T-Birds will host Bonduel, while the Indians will head to Shiocton.