T.J. Schneider took the helm on Tuesday and nearly steered the Ships out of a steep deficit on the road.
But the freshman’s game-leading 17-point effort wasn’t enough to push the Manitowoc boys basketball team past Sheboygan South, who held on for a 45-36 win against a late Ships comeback try.
“Offensively he played really well tonight,” Manitowoc coach Brian Gallagher said. “… I thought his offense got us back into the game tonight. He’ll keep getting better as the season goes on.
Most of Schneider’s points came in the second half, when Manitowoc (0-3, 0-2 Fox River Classic Conference) tried clawing back into the game after trailing by as many as 13 points early in the third quarter, but his offensive heroics weren’t enough to turn the tables.
“The pressure bothered us,” Gallagher said in a nod to South’s defense. “We started turning the ball over, and that changed the course of the game. When it’s a low-scoring game and you can get a nice spurt like they did, that really makes a big difference.”
The Redwings (2-3, 1-1 FRCC) turned in a strong defensive-minded effort and bounced back from a slow start and an early deficit to hammer away to the conference win.
“Manitowoc gave us everything they had, I want to give them a lot of credit,” South coach Mike Rank said, crediting his team for limiting the Ships’ scoring chances and winning the battle of the boards.
Tristan Schmidt keyed an important 21-4 run that turned the game’s tide in the second and third quarters, and Jared Reklaitis finished the game with a double-double to help lead South.
South got off to a slow start, trailing 6-4 at the end of a first quarter that saw the Redwings score their first points with just under 2 minutes left in the period.
Manitowoc eventually built out to a 10-6 lead in the second quarter, but that’s when Schmidt started going to work for South’s offense.
The 6-foot senior, who didn’t score a point in the first quarter, ripped through the Ships’ defense for 10 points in the final 2 minutes of the half, helping jumpstart what turned into an offensive surge that put the Redwings comfortably ahead 27-14 early in the third quarter. He finished the game with 12 points.
“I think for Tristan … he’s slowly kind of getting into his role,” Rank said, noting that on any given night “it could be a different guy stepping up” for South’s offense.
Reklaitis, who crowded the paint all game, finished with 12 points — nine of them in the final eight minutes — and 14 rebounds.
South stepped up its defensive effort in the second quarter, forcing a few turnovers that helped spur the offensive streak.
“Well, I think what we needed to do was — our offense was struggling so much, but to be honest with you our defense was doing so well that we decided to turn up the heat on them a little bit and make it more of a full-court game,” Rank said. “And I think our defense and those turnovers turned into some quick offense for us.”
Schneider scored all of Manitowoc’s seven points in the third quarter, and scored seven more in the fourth to help lead a second-half charge that saw the Ships pull to within six points several times in the waning minutes of the game.
But South, which sporadically applied a full-court press and double-teamed Manitowoc’s players at times during the game, didn’t budge, holding off the late comeback try on solid free-throw shooting down the stretch.
Manitowoc…6 8 7 15 — 36
Sheb. South…4 18 9 14 — 45
Manitowoc — Ullman 4, Cavanaugh 8, Terp 1, Schneider 17, Rohrer 4, Kohls 2. 3-pt: Cavanaugh 2, Schneider 2. FT: 6-11. Fouls: 23.
Sheboygan South — Pitsch 9, Zietz 2, Slimmer 6, Harrison 2, Selk 1, Schmidt 12, Amundsen 1, Raklaitis 12. 3-pt: Pitsch, Slimmer, Schmidt. FT: 18-26. Fouls: 16.