When you are a highly ranked team in the polls, there is automatically a bullseye on you. Every game you play, especially on the road, your opponent is going to up their level of play, and their fans are going to cheer louder and attempt to make it as uncomfortable as possible for you as a team.
That is the challenge for the Wrightstown Tigers boys’ basketball team. Currently ranked #1 in area polls including the latest American Family Insurance ALL-USA Green Bay Press-Gazette boys’ basketball rankings, and #2 in the state in Division 3 according to the WisSports website, the Tigers of head coach Cory Haese posted a 70-50 over the Clintonville Truckers to improve to 10-0 on the season. But don’t think Haese was impressed with his charges performance.
“Man, that was ugly. We gave up 30 points in the first half. We gave up five open lay ups because we turned the ball over in that first half,” the head coach said. “We didn’t play that well tonight. I thought we play more selfish on both ends of the court then we have all year. Give Clintonville some credit. They have two really nice players (Tyler Petermann and Nathan Krueger) that we had a hard time controlling and getting in front of. It was a battle tonight.”
The game itself was closer than the score really indicated, as the Truckers we down only four at halftime. They battled for most of the night, but simply could not get over that hump. They also had two problems: put the ball in the basket in the second half and containing Zac Haese.
“We hit a stretch in the second half where we just didn’t get any points,” said Trucker head coach Shawn Howe. “You can do that. If you’re playing the top team in the conference, you have to continue to shoot the ball well. You come out and go for a long stretch without scoring you are going to be in trouble.”
The Truckers started of the second half with three free throws and didn’t score a field goal until 10:03 left in the game. They also got trouble from Haese.
The senior guard found his stroke to the tune of 42 points on 11-13 shooting from beyond the arc. Haese also contributed nine rebounds, two steals and a block shot in the Tigers (6-0 in the North Eastern Conference). Stephen DeCramer added 10 points, and Derek Zwick chipped in eight. Both DeCramer and Zwick also contributed a lot of hustle plays and Zwick pulled down seven rebounds before fouling out.
“I put in some extra work this weekend because my shot wasn’t feeling the best,” Haese said. “I started to feel more confident this week and the shots started to fall. They kept leaving me open with their zone.”
The Truckers allowing Haese to get shots off led to several exasperated expressions on the face of Howe.
“I am ok with some of the shots he hit; he is a good player,” Howe said. “But there were times where were matched up with him, and after one ball pass, we would leave him and he would come right back and hit a three. Those are the shots that we don’t want to give up.”
Petermann paced Clintonville (3-6 overall, 2-4 North Eastern Conference) with 22 points and several defensive plays. Krueger chipped 12 points.
The Tigers will continue their road trip and take their perfect record to Marinette for a conference tilt with the Marines. Game time is 7:15pm on Friday, January 15th.
In Other North Eastern Conference action on January 12th:
Freedom 59, Fox Valley Lutheran 52
Luxemburg-Casco 69, Little Chute 62
Denmark 66, Oconto Falls 51
Upcoming Games in the North Eastern Conference (January 15th)
Luxemburg-Casco (5-1) @ Clintonville (2-4)
Fox Valley Lutheran (2-4) @ Denmark (3-3)
Oconto Falls (0-6) @ Little Chute (3-3)
Freedom (5-1) @ Waupaca (2-4)