SHULLSBURG – With their leader in scoring, rebounds, assists and steals at home in bed with the flu, the Shullsburg Miners had to come up with a new plan of action to beat Belmont.
Luckily for head coach Mark Lierman, the key components of that plan were already on the Miners bench.
Lierman’s Miners made up for the loss of senior point guard Pierce Russell’s 14 points per game by getting season-high scoring from four back up players, which in turn led Shullsburg to a 36-30 Six Rivers West victory over Belmont at SHS on Tuesday, Feb. 5.
“A win is a win. I’ve had nightmares about life without Pierce for next year, but I’m pleased we hung tough,” said Lierman.
Seniors Bret Doyle and Hervey Trejo combined with juniors John Meyer and Nathan Hendrickson to tally 21 points on the night, including 11 in the fourth quarter that fueled the Miners’ comeback.
Hendrickson scored all five of his season-high points at the started of the fourth quarter to turn an 18-15 deficit into a 20-18 lead, and Doyle converted a clutch three-point play with 4:27 to play to put the Miners into the lead to stay.
“Both those guys (Hendrickson and Doyle) played some great defense; and then, as a bonus, they helped us out on the offensive end. They forced me to keep playing them because they were doing good things, and they came through,” Lierman stated.
Meyer and Kyle Hoppman beat the Braves’ full-court press for layups to put the Miners (13-7 overall, 6-4 in SRW) up 27-21 with 3:20 remaining, and senior Collin Hauser went a perfect 8-for-8 at the free throw line over the final two minutes, 14 seconds to seal the win for the hosts.
“He did a great job at the free throw line closing it out. I’m really proud of their efforts and really proud of everyone who stepped up for us,” said Lierman.
Early on, it looked like neither team would reach 30 points on the night as neither team could get shots to fall with any type of consistency.
The Braves (1-19, 0-11) closed the first quarter with a 4-2 lead, and the teams were deadlocked at 10-10 at the half.
“I thought we executed our defensive plan very well. It helps when you don’t have a player like Pierce Russell on the floor,” said Belmont head coach Dave Michalkiewicz. “Offensively, their ball pressure gave us a little bit of trouble and got us out of rhythm. We only shot 20 percent. We have to shoot better if we expect to win games.”
Senior forward Brandon Wedig scored six of his game-high 14 points in the third quarter to lead the Braves out to an 18-15 lead, but they were outscored 21-12 in the fourth quarter to let it slip away.
“We’re a young team and we’ve had problems with consistency all season. Hopefully, we can keep learning from that and keep getting better,” noted Michalkiewicz.
Hauser led the Miners with 10 points, while Meyer netted a season-high seven. Doyle and Hendrickson each scored five and Trejo added a season-high four points.
Senior Jeremy Richardson chipped in with 10 points for the Braves, while freshman Lane Kamps tallied five.
At Scales Mound, on Thursday, Feb. 7, center John Meyer poured in a season-high 10 points and Kyle Hoppman added a season-best nine points to lead the Miners over Scales Mound, 45-32, in a non-conference game.
The Miners broke open a tight game with a 15-4 scoring run in the second quarter, and then maintained the lead the entire second half for their fifth win in their last six games,
Collin Hauser added nine points for the Miners, while Stephen Korte led the Hornets with 14 points.
At Belmont, on Friday, Feb. 8, Joel Mezera dropped in a game-high 23 points to lead River Ridge to a 53-43 SRW win over the host Braves.
Brandon Wedig netted 11 points and Jon Bahr tallied 10 for Belmont.
Shullsburg closes the regular season at Benton on Friday, Feb. 15. The Miners received the #6-seed in their playoff bracket. They will open the WIAA Division 5 state tournament by hosting #11-seed Green Lake/Princeton (11-9) in a regional quarterfinal affair at SHS on Tuesday, Feb. 19. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.
Belmont has already wrapped up the regular season. The #16-seeded Braves kick off the WIAA Division 5 state tournament by traveling to top-seeded Randolph (19-1) on Tuesday, Feb. 19, starting at 7 p.m.
Belmont……. 4 6 8 12 – 30
Shullsburg… 2 8 5 21 – 36
Belmont – Lane Kamps 5, Justin Nodorft 1, Jeremy Richardson 10, Brandon Wedig 14. Totals – 14 2-7 30.
Shullsburg – Collin Hauser 10, Bret Doyle 5, Kyle Hoppman 3, Connor Crotty 2, Nathan Hendrickson 5, John Meyer 7, Hervey Trejo 4. Totals – 12 12-21 36.
3-point goals – B 0, S 0. Total fouls – B 19, S 9. Fouled out – B: Kamps.
Shullsburg…….. 10 15 10 10 – 45
Scales Mound… 10 4 7 11 – 32
Shullsburg – Nathan Houtakker 2, Collin Hauser 9, Pierce Russell 5, Kyle Hoppman 9, Connor Crotty 4, John Meyer 10, Reid Schwartz 4, Hervey Trejo 2. Totals – 20 4-10 45.
Scales Mound – Glasgow 4, S. Korte 14, Carlborg 4, J. Korte 8, Hall 2. Totals – 14 1-4 32.
3-point goals – S 1 (Russell 1), SM 3 (S. Korte 2, Carlborg 1). Total fouls – S 3, SM 7.
River Ridge… 15 11 10 17 – 53
Belmont…….. 9 13 8 13 – 43
River Ridge – Martin 1, Mezera 23, Witzig 9, Langmeier 1, White 12, Ertz 3, Breuer 4. Totals – 18 15-23 53.
Belmont – Lane Kamps 6, Justin Nodorft 5, Raine Voigts 4, Jon Bahr 10, Logan Voigts 5, Jeremy Richardson 2, Brandon Wedig 11. Totals – 15 10-13 37.
3-point goals – RR 2 (Mezera 2), B 3 (Nodorft 1, R. Voigts 1, Bahr 1). Total fouls – RR 15, B 21. Fouled out – B: Kyle Van Bogaert.