For the Stevens Point Area Senior High boys basketball team this season, free throw shooting has been a strength.
That strength was on full display on Friday night against Wisconsin Rapids.
The No. 10- ranked Panthers hit all 23 shots they took from the line en route to a 75-58 victory in Wisconsin Valley Conference play.
The Panthers swept the regular season series with the Raiders with the victory. They also defeated Rapids 56-45 on December 14.
“Free throws have been a strength of ours all year,” SPASH coach Scott Anderson said. “We have had some very good nights, but never have we been perfect.”
Those extra chances came due in part to the Raiders getting in four trouble. SPASH found themselves in the bonus at the end of the first quarter, and then the double bonus just moments into the second frame.
But before the Rapids fouls, the game was up for grabs.
The Raiders held an advantage for most of the first quarter, but as the frame wore on, the Raiders found themselves deeper and deeper in foul trouble giving SPASH extra chances to take the lead. The Panthers ultimately grabbed the lead for good on a buzzer beating three-pointer by Sam Hauser to take an 18-17 lead into the second quarter.
“We made them do what we wanted and take a long shot at the buzzer,” Rapids coach Dan Witter said. “Sometimes that works out, but tonight it didn’t work out well for us.”
After grabbing the lead, SPASH continued to pile on the points. The Panthers went on several runs throughout the game as their defense was able to out-rebound Rapids and get the ball down court where their offense was able to pound the ball in the paint.
Point finished the night with three guys in double figures. Hauser led all scorers with 24 points, while Trevor Anderson dropped in 20, and George Dinkelman added 12. SPASH finished the game with nine players scoring.
Despite seeing the early lead slip away and with several players in foul trouble, Rapids continued to battle to get into the game, and were able to cut the deficit into the single-digits. But every time Rapids was about to mount a comeback, their foul trouble came back to haunt them allowing SPASH to pad their lead again.
Rapids was led by Jace Williamson with 14 points, with Alex Bassuener notching 13, while Riley Presley added 10.
“This game was exactly what we needed to get used the kind of games that we will have come the playoffs,” Anderson said. “Rapids is a tough well-coached team, and if we miss half of those free throws, it is a completely different ball game.”
Panthers 75 Raiders 58
Stevens Point 18 19 14 24 – 75
Wisconsin Rapids 17 12 10 19 – 58
STEVENS POINT (75):Sam Hauser 24, Trevor Anderson 20, George Dinkelman 12, Sean Van Helden 6, Joey Hahn 4, Eric Zelhofer 3, Ryan Sullivan 2, Jon Barnes 2, Aaron Nickel 2.
WISCONSIN RAPIDS (58): Jace Williamson 14, Alex Bassuener 13, Riley Peterson 10, Regis Henke 9, Zach Bassuener 5, Jayson Wiernik 3, Jared halbur 2, Hunter Langholff 1, Tom Olson 1.
3-Pointers: SPASH 2 (Hauser); Wisconsin Rapids 6 (Williamson 3, A. Bassuener 2, Z. Bassuener.)
Records: Stevens Point 18-2 overall, 8-1 WVC, Wisconsin Rapids 5-13 overall, 3-5 WVC.