Freedom pulls away in second half
By Greg Seubert
Keeping Waupaca’s two leading scorers in check paid off for the Freedom boys’ basketball team.
The Irish held Brandon Wanty and Justin Vaughn to a combined 12 points Feb. 9 in a 66-42 North Eastern Conference win over the Comets.
Freedom scored the game’s first nine points, only to see the Comets pull to within two at 11-9. However, the Irish quickly pushed the lead back to nine points and never let Waupaca get closer than six points the rest of the way.
The Irish took a 30-19 lead into the locker room and took advantage of 14 Waupaca turnovers in the second half to outscore the Comets 36-23.
“They just defended really, really well,” coach Matt Bredesen said. “I don’t know if it was us being loose with the ball. (Coach John Miron) gets them to really defend hard and they’re physical with how they defend. I think that causes some turnovers in our kids when we’re not necessarily ready to see that on a day-to-day basis because we’re not able to simulate pressure like that at practice.”
The Irish used a 13-2 run to take a 50-29 lead midway through the second half.
“We didn’t shoot the ball particularly well,” Bredesen said. “I thought we settled for some threes where we wanted to reverse the ball. They did such a nice job with where they allowed you to go and where they allowed you to run. We weren’t even allowed to get in position. It’s hard to reverse the ball when you have four guys on one side.”
Wanty and Hunter Marcom led Waupaca with nine points each, while Vaughn finished with three.
“With it being the second time through the conference, everybody knows and is now keying on Brandon and Justin a lot,” Bredesen said. “That’s taking away some driving lanes. For us to be competitive, those guys have to hit some shots. They have to step up and hit some shots.”
Luke Pingel led three Freedom players in double figures with 17 points. Zach Mashlan and Jakob Balthazor added 15 and 12, respectively.
Waupaca will host Denmark at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 15, for Parents’ Night before closing out the regular season with road games against Wrightstown and Luxemburg-Casco.