Ethan Guske got thrown to the floor, and the slow starts that had plagued the Sheboygan North boys basketball team suddenly disappeared.
During a loose ball exchange with Menomonee Falls’ Vadial Shields midway through the first quarter of Friday night’s non-conference clash at North, Guske was chucked to the hardcourt. He popped back up, gave a subtle shoulder bump to the Indians’ senior, the two exchanged subtle words and a couple of smiles.
Then Guske went to the rack for a lay-in and hit two consecutive 3-pointers, the second from NBA range. North exploded to a 16-4 advantage by the end of the first and didn’t trail the rest of the way in a 67-61 victory to improve to 2-0 on the young season.
North led just 2-0 three minutes in against Hortonville in Monday’s season opener before scoring 16 in the next five minutes en route to a 71-56 win.
On Friday, North led only 3-0 at the midway point of the frame.
“We get out to slow starts, not sure what’s up with that,” said Raiders senior Joe Hameister. “But once we go, we go.”
Not that this win was a cinch. Falls (0-1) outscored North the rest of the way by outhustling the Raiders and cutting their turnovers (seven in the first quarter, five the rest of the way) while forcing more from North (three in the first, 14 overall).
“(Falls) scrapped, they were getting to loose balls and we weren’t,” said Guske. “They got offensive rebounds, and that’s been a weakness.”
North didn’t help its own cause at the free-throw line, either, shooting just 14-of-30.
Guske finished with 21 points. But his teammates, especially Hameister, were there to help out when the Indians focused on slowing No. 3 or when he just wasn’t feeling it.
Hameister scored nine points in the second quarter and eight in the third, finishing with a game-high 24 points. He added six rebounds.
“Teammates did a good job of finding me,” Hameister said.
When the Indians cut North’s lead to four points in the final two minutes, it was Hameister and freshman Davis Larson that hit back-to-back buckets to essentially ice the game.
Larson added 10 points and a team-high seven rebounds, and senior Dominic Mahn scored six points down low.
“That’s an aggressive team, a good game to play,” said North coach Tom Desotell. “…It’s nice to get a 2-0 start.”
Next up is the Fox River Classic Conference opener at Notre Dame (3-0) on Tuesday, part of a five-games-in-10-days stretch, and the Raiders know it’s going to take another team effort to keep the solid start going.
“(Balanced scoring) is the only way we’re going to win,” said Guske. “One man can’t win a game. Unless you’re Sam Dekker.”
Menomonee Falls…..4 19 18 20 — 61
Sheb. North………….16 17 18 16 — 67
Menomonee Falls — Dahlke 4, Richardson 5, SHields 4, Ramey 16, Jackson 2, Murphy 7, McCloud 2, Precia 10, Russo 6, Murray 5. 3s: Richardson, Ramey 4, Murray. FT: 7-9. F: 24.
Sheb. North — Guske 21, Campion 2, Larson 10, Lang 1, Hameister 24, Brunmeier 2, Mahn 6. 3s: Guske 3, Larson, Hameister 3. FT: 14-30. F: 13.