Enrollment size didn’t matter much Friday in the first day of the Wausau West Turkey Shoot, as Newman Catholic and Pacelli both notched non-conference victories against WIAA Division 1 schools.
First, strong starts to both halves propelled Newman to beat Wausau East 49-41. Then, Pacelli scored the last 12 points against Wausau West and won 45-44.
“It’s great confidence-builder for our kids to show that we can play with whoever we decide to play with,” Newman head coach Jeff Gress said. “It was a nice bounce back after the Marathon game (45-40 loss) in which we did not execute well.”
Newman jumped out to a 10-1 lead in the first quarter and held a 23-16 advantage at halftime.
East cut the deficit to four points early in the third before the Cardinals went on a 9-1 run to pump the lead back up to 12.
Two baskets off back-to-back steals to start the fourth quarter gave Newman its largest lead of the game at 41-27 and the Cardinals were able to hold off a late rally by the Lumberjacks, despite struggling at the free-throw line.
“We had two goals,” Gress said. “Turn up our defensive intensity and have more patience offensively. I thought most of game, we looked for good shots and defensively, I thought we were very solid help side. We needed to really pack it in on their bigs and make them beat us from the outside.
“I also told the kids it would be a game of runs and we wanted to have a few more than them. We wanted to have some 6- or 8-point runs and we did that a couple of times throughout the game.”
East put together a 14-5 run in the fourth quarter to pull within five in the final minute, but could come no closer.
“We had our chances,” East coach Paul Dimka said. “We’d whittle it down and then just give up easy baskets.”
For Pacelli, Isaac Elliott hit two free-throws with 0.8 seconds left to cap an 12-0 rally in the final 1 minute, 26 seconds.
“I think we were a team that was playing to not lose instead of win the basketball game,” West head coach Nate Lemmens said. “When you do that, you start thinking and hesitating and that’s when things start to happen and when they do, they gain confidence and you start losing confidence.”
West led 44-33 after a fastbreak basket by Mason Bednarski with 1:33 remaining.
But Pacelli got a layup by Tyus Groos, back-to-back 3-pointers from Brett O’Sullivan and Elliott to cut the lead to three with 33 seconds left. After West missed the second of two front ends of a bonus free-throw situation, O’Sullivan and Elliott hit two free throws apiece to close out the rally.
“You can look at it 100 different ways and point fingers, but you’ve got to finish the game and not be surprised you’re winning the game,” Lemmens said. “Give Pacelli a little credit here. What they did allowed them to get back in the game as well. I wanted to win this game as much as anybody on the planet, but it’s November and this game has no real meaning to the season except to say ‘Did we get better?’ and we did get better.”
East (41): Dylan Hamlin 7, Bryce Taylor 5, Jaden Rutkowski 11, Trenton Pate 8, Sean Wilson 4, Eric Daniel 2, JP Lacy 4.
Newman (49): Nick Thoreson 10, Nate Prososki 7, Jake Gajewski 10, Marcus Gabriel 10, Dane Fronek 6, Jeff Ford 6.
Free throws: East 7-13; Newman 7-17. 3-point field goals: East 4 (Pate 2, Taylor, Rutkowski); Newman 6 (Thoreson 3, Gajewski 2, Gabriel).
Pacelli (45): Tyus Groos 9, Chris Shibilski 1, Isaac Elliott 5, Brett O’Sullivan 24, Colin Jamison 6.
West (44): Kyle Nickel 2, Carson Weber 4, David Seamon 5, Jacob Raeder 5, Joe Utecht 4, Taylor Penn 14, Andy Yang 4, Mason Bednarski 6.
Free-throws: Pacelli 10-14; West 2-4. 3-point field goals: Pacelli 6 (Jamison 2, O’Sullivan 2, Groos, I. Elliott); West 4 (Penn 2, Seamon, Raeder).