NEILLSVILLE PULLS AWAY TO BEAT SPENCER IN BATTLE OF CLOVERBELT EAST BOYS BASKETBALL LEADERS
By Steve Pilz For Zaleski Sports
NEILLSVILLE – The battle for sole possession of first place in the East Division of the Cloverbelt Conference took place Friday night at Neillsville High School, and the two teams didn’t disappoint.
Spencer sat one-half game ahead of Neillsville heading into the game as neither had lost a conference tilt in the 2019-20 season. After a close start, where no team led by more than five, the Warriors pulled away thanks to some long-range shooting and won going away 63-46 on Friday night at Neillsville High School.
The Warriors (9-2, 6-0 Cloverbelt East) had a five-point lead with about 2½ minutes remaining when they brought the ball down. Monte Diestler hit his first 3-pointer of the night at the 2:17 mark to make it 52-44. After an empty Spencer possession, Diestler was at it again, draining his second triple with 1:49 remaining. This time Spencer answered when Brett Kasch made 1 of 2 at the free throw line.
Diestler hit the jackpot with another 3 at the 1:15 mark for the Warriors, who went ahead 58-45.
Braden Trunkel added insult to injury with just 55 seconds left as he drilled his third three of the night.
Spencer led 28-27 at halftime, but was limited to just 18 points in the second half as Neillsville doubled that total.
“I was really happy with the kids’ effort,” Spencer coach Clint Nieman said. “They played hard. They fought and battled all night. The score isn’t indicative of how the game went. We didn’t give up any scoring runs until right there at the end. Diestler just hit some big shots. Hats off to him. He took them fairly early in the possession and just buried them. It came right down to the end and then it just slipped away.”
Neillsville hit seven 3-pointers on the night, while the Rockets had nine as they drop to 7-2 overall and 6-1 in conference play heading into a game Thursday at Colby. Neillsville will be at Granton on the same night.
“I’ve got to find some points from some other guys,” Nieman said. “The guys on the floor tonight; maybe not the best defensive group at times, but I needed the shooters on the floor so that line-up tonight was my best bet. I would have liked to sub more, but the opportunity wasn’t there tonight.
“We’ll take it one game at a time. We’ve got Colby next week and thankfully Neillsville has to come to our place next time. We’ll look forward to that, but right now all that matters is next week against Colby.”
Alex King led a trio of Warriors in double digits with 28 pints. Trunkel and Diestler finished 13 and 10, respectively.
Kasch led a trio of Rockets in double digits with 13 points. Austin Bacon and Eric Ehlert each chipped in with 11.
Warriors 63, Rockets 46 Spencer 28 18 – 46 Neillsville 27 36 – 63 SPENCER (46): Brett Kasch 5 1-2 13, Hayden Bauman 2 0-0 6, Austin Bacon 3 5-7 11, Cody Vircks 0 1-2 1, Kaleb Brandt 0 1-2 1, Eric Ehlert 4 0-0 11, Gavid Kilty 1 0-0 3. FGs: 15. FTs: 8-13. 3-pointers: 9 (Kasch 3, Ehlert 3, Bauman 2, Kilty 1). Record: 7-2, 6-1 Cloverbelt Conference East Division. NEILLSVILLE (63): Isaac Weiers 1 0-0 2, Braden Trunkel 5 0-0 13, Santana Subke 3 0-0 6, Alex King 10 7-11 28, Andrew Brown 2 0-0 4, Monte Diestler 3 1-2 10. FGs: 24. FTs: 8-13. 3-pointers: 7 (Diestler 3, Trunkel 3, King 1), Record: 9-2, 6-0 Cloverbelt Conference East Division.
Steve Pilz writes for MarshfieldAreaSports.com, a contributor to Zaleski Sports.