The Marshfield and Wausau West boys basketball teams opened the Wisconsin Valley Conference season Friday night at the Marshfield Fieldhouse.
The visiting Warriors started slow and never recovered, as Marshfield picked up the 56-37 win on Friday night.
Marshfield jumped to a 18-5 advantage in the first quarter that saw all five starters get into the scoring column.
“West has tough kids,” said Marshfield coach Bill Zuiker. “We needed to concentrate most of our defensive efforts on Taylor Penn. Our 1-3-1 defense helped us a great deal in the first half because they were a little disorganized by it.”
West’s Penn did indeed deserve some extra attention as he scored 10 of his team-high 18 points in the second quarter, including a pair of three pointers just before the half that sliced Marshfield’s lead to 13.
But Penn was overshadowed by Marshfield’s Luke Zuiker. The 6-foot-5-inch sharpshooter made an array of jump shots, scoring 11 points in the second quarter on his way to a game-high 26.
“We wanted to be intense; get out on the break and set our defense,” said Zuiker. “Just do the little things. We need to work on our 1-3-1. I think we’re probably better in man, but we’ll keep working the zone to improve on it. We’re getting better everyday. The real test will be against LaCrosse Central and SPASH next week.”
Having played the Tigers even in the second quarter, the Warriors pulled within 12 in the third and got the margin to single digits with 6:30 remaining.
“We were a little nervous coming out,” West coach Nate Lemmens said. “A lot of first time varsity guys. Marshfield came out and punched us in the face, but we got back up which is a good sign. We couldn’t get over the hump, but we got it back to nine in the fourth quarter. We just didn’t make enough plays. Give credit to Marshfield. They really turned it up early.”
The Tigers made all four of their field goal attempts in the final quarter and had just three turnovers in the game.
“In the fourth quarter our man defense made the difference and we didn’t let them get back in (the game),” Zuiker said. “Changing defenses helped us a little bit.”
“We’re not hitting on all cylinders yet but it’s early. We’re getting there.”