Mustangs, Marines top Waupaca
By Greg Seubert
The second half has been the downfall for the Waupaca boys’ basketball team in recent North Eastern Conference home losses to Little Chute and Marinette.
Little Chute scored the first 11 points of the second half Feb. 5 in a 70-45 win over the Comets, while Marinette outscored Waupaca 45-23 in the second half of the Marines’ 69-53 win.
Little Chute 70, Waupaca 45
The Mustangs took a 30-21 lead into the locker room at halftime, but extended that advantage to 20 points.
“They made a ton of shots to start the second half and quite a few of them were not even defended poorly, for the most part,” coach Matt Bredesen said. “A few of those shots were pretty well defended. I thought we got hands up and closed out. They just hit shot after shot after shot. We struggle to keep up with teams that make a ton of shots.”
Little Chute made 14 of 20 shots in the second half and also connected on seven three-pointers and 11 of 12 free throws for the game.
“They really didn’t force things,” Bredesen said. “We had some chances in the first half to get a little bit closer and we gave up way too many offensive boards and second chances. I’m sure we got killed on the boards.”
The Mustangs outrebounded the Comets 34-15.
Brandon Wanty and Justin Vaughn combined to score 30 of Waupaca’s points. Wanty led all scorers with 16 and Vaughn added 14. Eleven of Wanty’s points came in the second half.
“Brandon did a nice job in the second half of finding a way to score when they defended him pretty well,” Bredesen said. “We certainly continued to play hard. We just haven’t found a way to score enough points and defend enough to get those wins in the end.”
Sam Hietpas led four Little Chute players in double figures with 15 points off of the bench. Noah Mueller, Justin Job and Logan Plate added 14, 13 and 10, respectively.
Marinette 69, Waupaca 53
The Comets held Marinette’s second-leading scorer, Jake Poetzl, to four points, but didn’t have an answer for Matt Wagner, who led all players with 21.
Waupaca led by as many as 15 points in the first half. Marinette cut the lead to four points twice in the final minute and trailed 30-24 at the break after Alex Thuerman’s basket beat the buzzer.
The Marines quickly tied the game at 30-30 by making the first three shots of the second half before Poetzl picked up his third foul with 15:20 to go in the game.
Two three-pointers, two three-point plays and a free throw later, the Comets found themselves down 43-30 with Poetzl still on the bench. Waupaca never got any closer than 11 points the rest of the way.
The Marines led by as many as 27 points before a late 11-0 Waupaca run cut Marinette’s lead to 67-51.
Wanty led Waupaca with 12 points, but was the only Waupaca player to reach double figures. Walker Stroming scored 11 points to go along with Wagner’s 21.
While Waupaca kept Poetzl in check, the Marines held Vaughn to four points as well.
“Everybody knows they’re focusing on Brandon and Justin,” Bredesen said. “We put a lot of guys in position to finish and we just didn’t finish. It was that simple. Unfortunately, in this game, it doesn’t matter if you’re making some of the right reads and doing the right things. If you don’t finish, it doesn’t go on the scoreboard.
“We knew that Marinette was going to bring it in the second half and they certainly did defensively,” he said. “They made a lot of good plays. They’re basically playing for a conference title every night that they go out with them and Wrightstown being tied.”
Waupaca fell to 5-9 in North Eastern play and 5-13 overall with the losses.
Waupaca will travel to Freedom Friday, Feb. 9, for a 7 p.m. rematch with the Irish.
“We have to get better, stay the course, trust the process and continue to realize that it’s a learning process,” Bredesen said. “We want to get better.”