To warm up, Isaac Elliott knocked down a couple shots from close range.
And when he was good and loose, the Pacelli junior started hitting from long range to lead the Cardinals to a 55-45 nonconference win over Nekoosa on Monday night.
Elliott finished with a game-high 24 points and connected on 4 of 7 from 3-point range, accounting for nearly half of the Cardinals’ total points.
“Isaac is a phenomenal shooter and when he gets hot he’s tough to stop,” Pacelli coach Brad Rutta said. “We didn’t play our best ball in the first half and made some mistakes that hurt us.
“After the half we played with much more intensity on defense and that gave us some opportunities that we were able to capitalize on,” Rutta added.
Nekoosa coach Chuck Baldeshwiler was impressed with the Cardinals’ sharp-shooter as well, “He got hot and he sparked the rest of their guys. Elliott knocked down a lot of clutch shots for them.”
Forcing Nekoosa into turnovers, seven in the third quarter, gave Elliott that many more chances with the basketball. During the middle of the quarter, Pacelli went on an 8-0 run, thanks to a pair of Elliott 3s and a short jumper by James Gollon to give the Cardinals a 37-29 lead.
Nekoosa’s Owen Linzmeier was hot from beyond the arc in the third quarter as well, sinking a pair in the first two minutes of the period to keep the Papermakers within striking distance.
“Our turnovers were untimely for us tonight,” Nekoosa coach Chuck Baldeshwiler said. “We’ve been playing good ball lately and been taking much better care fo the ball then we did tonight.”
Despite trailing by four after the first quarer, Nekoosa was right in the thick of things by the time the first half ended.
Mason Elsen, the Papermakers’ 6-foot-6 center, gave Pacelli all it could handle in the first half as he dropped in 11 of his team-high 14 before the break.
“Mason played a good game, they made some adjustments in the second half and we didn’t get the ball into him as effectively,” Baldishwiler said.
Elsen was still a threat on the board in the second half, finishing with nine rebounds, but he was just 1 for 6 from the floor.
“We don’t face too many athletic centers like Elsen in our league so we really had to step up on defense,” Rutta said. “This was a good test for us. Nekoosa is a talented team and every game is important to us because at the end of the season it comes down to how many games you’ve won.”
Although disappointed with the loss, Baldeshwiler couldn’t fault the effort of his players.
“We had been playing better than this and I think this was just a bump in the road,” the Nekoosa coach said. “We have a lot of potential on this team and the challenge will be to bring it out of the guys in the next few weeks.”
PACELLI: Isaac Elliott 24, James Gollon 9, Colin Jamison 3, Brett O’Sullivan 10, Jacob Feltz 4, Tyrus Groos 5. Totals 19-41, 11-14, 55.
NEKOOSA: Owen Linzmeier 11, Nate Brost 7, Aaron Brost 7, Matt Kleinhans 2, Mason Elsen 14, Bradley Savage 4. Totals 18-44, 5-9, 45.
3-pointers: Pacelli 6-14 (Elliott 4, Gollon, Jamison); Nekoosa 4-11 (Linzmeier A.Brost).
Records: Pacelli 9-4; Nekoosa 8-6.