SPASH boys basketball team splits pair of games to open season
Portage County Gazette
By John Kemmeter
The Stevens Point Area Senior High School (SPASH) boys basketball team went 1-1 in a pair of nonconference games to start the 2018-19 season.
The Panthers opened with a win at Rhinelander Friday, Nov. 23, before they lost 60-48 to De Pere at the SPASH Fieldhouse Tuesday, Nov. 27.
“Obviously, it’s a learning curve with a lot of new players out there,” said SPASH senior guard Nolan Blair after the loss to De Pere. “We didn’t give quite enough energy, but we’ll try to get it fixed for the next one.”
“De Pere’s a pretty good team, and they have a lot of size,” said SPASH boys basketball head coach Jon Krull. “But that’s going to be our problem all year, we’re not going to fix our size, so we need to learn how to play undersized and figure out how to be that scrappy team on the defensive end and find some guys that are going to dig down deep on the defensive end.
“We’ve got to string some stops together, score out of some defense, and I think that will boost our offense and get it going a little bit,” he said.
The Panthers opened the season at Rhinelander Friday, where they got out to a double-digit lead and carried a 30-19 advantage into halftime.
SPASH outscored Rhinelander 29-27 in the second half to close out a 60-46 win, as senior guard Adam Willoughby knocked down four three-pointers and finished with 14 points, Blair had 13 points, senior forward Joe Bergquist added nine points, and senior guard Darren Zwicker chipped in with seven points.
“It’s always big, obviously to get the first win in the season,” said Krull. “But for a first game, I thought we played pretty well.
“We did some good things, we just need to become a more consistent team,” he said.
The Panthers were at the SPASH Fieldhouse Tuesday night for their home opener against De Pere, which used a 10-0 run to get out to a 16-4 lead with 8:00 remaining in the first half.
SPASH trailed 23-8 with 4:52 to go, then outscored De Pere 10-4 the rest of the half to go into intermission down 27-18.
“I thought that we were getting some good looks, we were just missing some shots on the offensive end,” said Krull. “But we really talked about trying to limit their easy touches, dump off layups, or we tried to crowd the post a little bit to see if we could get them to pass it out a couple of times.
“But they’re big, and we’re just going to have to find ways to play against big teams, because we’re going to see them down the road,” he said. “So it’s just something we’ve got to work on.”
De Pere opened up the second half on a 12-2 run to build a 39-20 lead with 14:05 to play and take control of the game, as it held a 52-30 lead with 5:21 left.
SPASH junior guard Brenden Klish, who scored all nine of his points in the second half, led a late charge for the Panthers, who outscored De Pere 18-8 over the final five minutes to close out their 60-48 loss.
Senior 6-7 forward Brad Nies scored 12 points and 6-4 sophomore guard Will Dehn added eight points to lead De Pere, which had 10 players break into the scoring column.
Blair scored 11 points to lead SPASH, while Klish and senior center Elliot Eron each had nine points, and junior forward Austin Beyer added eight points off the bench.
“We’ve got new guys in the rotation here,” said Eron. “And we just all need to get a better connection going and just play our hearts out.”
“I played quite a bit of guys, and I got some good looks out of a few of our bench players,” said Krull. “But we’re trying to find our team right now; we’ve got a lot of new guys that didn’t really play minutes last year, so we’re trying to find roles.
“It’s going to take a little time, and we’re learning as we go,” he said. “But we just need to find a gear that is going get us some stops on the defensive end.”