After dropping two games of a four-game home stand, the Waupaca boys’ basketball team was looking for a boost.
It came from Brando Vasquez.
The senior guard scored his team’s first 12 points, finished with a game-high 29 and led the Comets to a 58-50 nonconference win over Merrill.
Waupaca also fell to Little Chute 54-49 Dec. 18 in a matchup of Eastern Valley Conference teams and came out on the short end of a 77-64 score Dec. 16 against Denmark.
Waupaca 58, Merrill 50
The Bluejays had no answer for Vasquez, who hit a pair of three-pointers in the first quarter to help Waupaca take a 16-11 lead into the second quarter.
Merrill cut the deficit to 24-23 at halftime and took its only lead of the game – 25-24 – on Keenan Stellingsworth’s free throws, but Waupaca went on a 10-2 run that included a pair of threes from Max Hansen to take a 37-31 lead.
Chaz Mootz cut Waupaca’s lead to 37-34 on a three-point play late in the third quarter and Merrill trailed 37-34 heading into the final period.
The Bluejays cut the lead to 47-45 on Scott Wallace’s three, but didn’t get any closer.
The Comets hit 22 of 43 shots on the night and only had six turnovers. Hansen scored eight points to go with Vasquez’s 29.
“This team has been amazing to me,” coach Ron Weber said. “I’ve had so many teams where I have had bad practices where there’s no energy. This group keeps responding. They give me all they have right now. Tonight, it was good enough to beat a quality team.
“We’ve turned a corner,” he said. “I just thought to myself, ‘Is this group going to be willing to put in what it takes to get better at the varsity and to pull out games like this?’ It took some tough rebounds, it took taking care of the basketball. Tonight, they responded.”
Little Chute 54, Waupaca 49
Little Chute held the Comets to 15 points in the second half Dec. 18.
The Comets led 17-12 after one quarter and 34-28 at halftime, but the Mustangs outscored Waupaca 15-7 in the third quarter and 11-8 over the final eight minutes.
Vasquez led Waupaca with 19, while Tony Blackwell added 15 on five threes in the first half.
Denmark 77, Waupaca 64
WAUPACA — Vasquez had another big night with 29 points against the Vikings Dec. 16, but it wasn’t enough.
Denmark led 16-13 after one quarter, 38-32 at halftime and 56-45 after three quarters.
Blackwell had 11 points for Waupaca and Turner Kelly added nine.
Waupaca returned to EVC play Dec. 23 at Clintonville. Although it’s early in the season, Weber said the game with the Truckers is big.
“We’re 2-2 in conference right now and we want to stay above that group that’s just below us,” he said. “It’s kind of a rivalry. They’re going to zone you and make you shoot the ball from the perimeter. We have shot the ball well on our home court. Now, the test will be can we go there and shoot the ball well from three?”
Waupaca will also host Peshtigo Tuesday, Dec. 30, before heading to Menasha Saturday, Jan. 3, for a nonconference game with the Bluejays. Tipoff time for both games is set for 7:15 p.m.