By Steve Pilz For Zaleski Sports
SPENCER – As the calendar turns to February, teams start to look at the postseason and where they might end up in their conference crossover games, as well as their tournament seedings. Tuesday’s tilt in Spencer was one of those games.
When it was over, things may have been a bit clearer as the Spencer boys basketball team downed Greenwood 60-47 in a game that had more twists than turns.
Spencer came into the game having lost just one conference game, to Neillsville a month ago. Greenwood was firmly in third place with just three conference losses. An Indians’ win would make things pretty interesting, and really good for Neillsville.
From the start, the Rockets clearly said, “Not tonight.”
Spencer shot 14-for-39 in the game’s first 18 minutes, draining 5 of 14 3-pointers and 7 of 9 from the free throw line. Seniors Eric Ehlert and Austin Bacon each had 11 points, and the Rockets blasted off to a 40-19 lead by halftime.
Meanwhile, Greenwood shot a dismal 8-for-26 from the field with no 3-pointers and six turnovers. The Rockets unofficially had zero turnovers in the first half.
“In that first half I thought the kids really worked the ball around well and worked together,” Spencer coach Clint Nieman said. “They communicated well. We forced quite a few turnovers in the first half and got some easy buckets off that.”
That all changed in the second half. Greenwood started a pedestrian 3-for-9 from the field but its defense tightened and the Rockets started 2-for-16 with three turnovers. The Indians then hit five straight on their way to a 9-for-11 stretch that trimmed the Rockets’ lead down to six at 51-45.
“We got a little stagnant in the offense again in the second half,” Nieman said. “I think we panicked trying to get the ball down low and we just got out of rhythm, out of sync. Credit Greenwood, they played tight defense and they were getting after it.
“I’m proud of our kids for holding them off; withstood their rally and ended up coming out with the ‘W’ in the end.”
With the score 51-45 with just under four minutes to go, the Indians seemed on the verge but they missed their last six field goal attempts and turned the ball over four times.
The Rockets righted the ship, making their free throws down the stretch to put the game away and improve their season record to 12-4 overall and 11-1 in the Cloverbelt East.
“Just really proud of our kids”, concluded Nieman. “Our senior leadership; some of them haven’t been out for a while. I’m really proud of them. We started the year off a little slow but they’re playing better together and I love that they’re working hard. I’m looking forward to Thursday, Friday and next week.”
Westin Schmitz led the Indians (10-7, 8-4 Cloverbelt East) with 15 points and Cooper Bredlau added 10.
Bacon led the Rockets with 18 and Ehlert added 14. The Rockets’ season leading scorer, Brett Kasch, with 18.6 per game, added nine.
Spencer plays at Loyal on Thursday and hosts Owen-Withee on Friday. Greenwood is at home against Granton on Thursday.
Rockets 60, Indians 47 Greenwood 19 28 – 47 Spencer 40 20 – 60 GREENWOOD (47): Treyton Thomas 1 1-2 3, Westen Schmitz 6 2-2 15, Cooper Bredlau 5 0-0 10, Nathan Revier 3 0-0 7, Austen Humke 2 0-0 4, Jonah Hinker 4 0-1 8. FGs: 20-52. 3-pointers: 2 (Schmitz, Revier). FTs: 3-4. Turnovers: 13. Record: 10-7, 8-4 Cloverbelt East. SPENCER (60): Brett Kasch 3 2-2 9, Caleb Rucker 1 0-1 2, Hayden Bauman 3 0-0 6, Austin Bacon 6 6-8 18, Cody Viercks 2 2-4 7, Kaleb Brandt 0 1-2 1, Eric Ehlert 4 3-6 14, Gavid Kilty 1 1-2 3. FGs: 19-60. 3-pointers: 5 (Ehlert 3, Viercks, Kasch). FTs: 15-24. Turnovers: 4. Record: 12-4, 11-1 Cloverbelt East.
Steve Pilz writes for MarshfieldAreaSports.com, a contributor to Zaleski Sports.