Team doubles win total from last season
By Greg Seubert
With four games under its belt, the Waupaca girls’ basketball team already has equalled its number of wins in the last two seasons.
After winning only one game in the last two seasons, the Comets improved to 2-2 overall and 2-1 in North Eastern Conference play Dec. 6 with a 43-38 win over Oconto Falls at Waupaca High School.
“I don’t exactly know what it’s going to do for our confidence, but I know it’s good,” coach Nate Harms said. “I saw the confidence just take off with one conference win (59-38 Nov. 29 over Clintonville). Hopefully, we can keep it under control a little bit and not get overconfident.”
The team hasn’t won two games in a row since January 2014 and will look for its third Friday, Dec. 9, at Marinette, the only team the Comets beat last season.
Waupaca trailed by six points four times in the first half before cutting the Panthers’ lead to 25-22 at the break.
The Comets then held Oconto Falls to 13 points in the second half.
“That’s kind of why we went to the 2-3 zone,” Harms said. “We didn’t feel like they could shot a lot on us inside. We’re also not very deep, so we also wanted to try to do something that would keep our legs for another half.”
Oconto Falls played without its leading scorer and rebounder, Jenny Krueger, while the Comets got 17 points, 18 rebounds, seven blocks, six assists and two steals from Victoria Nowak.
“I give Oconto Falls credit,” Harms said. “They didn’t have their No. 1 scorer, but they came out, competed and hit shots all game long. They took advantage of the situation. They did a really good job of just exploiting our defense.”
The Comets trailed for much of the second half and took the lead for good with 3:08 to play on a Mya Johannes three-pointer that snapped a 35-35 tie.
Waupaca turned the ball over 15 times, with most of those coming in the first half.
“We had to dig deep in practice these last few games and talked about taking that next step and finishing,” Harms said. “There were times that I didn’t feel like we were doing what we needed to do, but we stayed the course and did just enough.”
Johannes, a freshman, added 11 points and six rebounds and sophomore Hailegh Smith chipped in with eight points.
“Haleigh’s really smart at finding the ball in situations where she can score,” Harms said. “She’s good about getting into those spots on the floor. That’s one of the reasons why we played her a lot and we’ve been playing her more every single game.”
Kaitlyn Donart led the Panthers with 10 points.
After Marinette, Waupaca will travel to Mosinee Dec. 13 before returning to conference play Thursday, Dec. 15, at home against Little Chute.
“As long as they’re working and getting better every day in practice, I can’t complain,” Harms said. “We’re moving the ball better, we’re starting to find openings on the defense, we’re starting to push the ball a little more.
“I don’t know for sure, but we might be getting better than some of the other teams in our conference,” he added. “If we’re getting better and closing the gap, that means we can be more competitive as the year goes on. That’s my goal.”