SHULLSBURG – At this point of the season, the Shullsburg boys’ basketball team has to be prepared to take every opponents best shot every time they take the court. To this point, the Miners have met every one of those challenges.
Shullsburg grabbed sole possession of first-place atop the Six Rivers West by rallying from a three-point halftime deficit to defeat Highland, 58-38, at HHS on Thursday, Jan. 12, and the Miners (11-0 overall 5-0 SRW)– who are ranked #2 in Division 5 in the latest state poll– remained unbeaten on the season after defeating Montezuma– Iowa’s #4-ranked team in 1A– by a score of 51-43 in the opening game of the 2017 Wendy’s/American Trust Classic held at Loras College in Dubuque on Saturday, Jan. 14.
“It feels great for our team to be unbeaten up to this point. What it means is that the Miners are playing pretty good basketball, but we have some stiff challenges ahead of us so we have to stay focused on improving everyday and taking one game at a time,” said Shullsburg head coach Mark Lierman.
First-place was on the line when the last two unbeaten teams in the West met in Highland on Thursday night, and throughout the first half the host Cardinals (8-4, 4-1) gave the two-time defending champions all they could handle.
Senior JR Linscheid (12 points) and sophomore Derek Miller (seven) combined to score 19 of the Cardinals’ 23 points in the first half to lead Highland out to a 23-20 halftime lead. Shullsburg seniors Noah Wand (seven) and Hunter Matye (six) did all they could to keep the Miners close.
In the second half, the Miners picked up their effort on both ends of the floor, pouring in 38 points on the offensive end and holding the Cards to 15 points on the defensive end to rally for the victory.
Matye (nine) and N. Wand (seven) kept up their scoring pace in the second half, while seniors Lance Lierman (eight) and Cameron Doyle (six) joined in to aid the offensive onslaught.
Defensively, Shullsburg limited Linscheid and Miller to just a combined six points in the second half.
Matye finished with a game-high 15 points and N. Wand added 14, while Lierman tallied nine and senior Jeremiah Bailey scored eight for the Miners. Linscheid finished with 14 and Miller netted 11 for the Cards.
“Highland began the game with a lot of energy and we were not shooting the ball very well in the first half. Thankfully our defense was solid in the first half. We played with a lot more confidence in the second half and good shots started going in,” stated Lierman.
At Loras College, on Saturday morning, the Miners went toe-to-toe from the opening tip with the talented Braves and came out on top with another strong second-half performance.
Shullsburg used a 14-11 scoring run in the second quarter to take a 28-27 halftime lead. Matye scored 15 of his game-high 21 points in the opening half to put the Miners into the lead.
The Miners added a point to that lead in the third quarter, and then opened the fourth quarter with a Doyle 3-pointer to extend their advantage to 41-36.
Shullsburg’s D limited the Braves to just seven points the rest of the way, and the Miners hit their free throws down the stretch to seal their 11th straight victory to open the season.
Senior center Joey Meyer added eight points for Shullsburg. Bailey scored six points, and N. Wand and Doyle tallied five points apiece in the win.
Logan Price led Montezuma with 20 points and Dakota Strong chipped in with 17 points for the Braves.
“Montezuma is a very good team. They were very fast and liked to push the ball up the floor. I thought we adjusted to their speed after the first few minutes and played solid in transition defense. Offensively we had great execution, for the most part. Our guys did an outstanding job of staying poised throughout the game, which can only be a benefit for us going forward,” Lierman said.
Shullsburg returns home to host River Ridge in a SRW game on Friday, Jan. 20, and Platteville in a non-conference contest on Monday, Jan. 23.
On Friday night, the Miners will be holding a fundraiser for River Ridge junior Joey Hamann, who has been diagnosed with bone and lung cancer this past fall and has begun chemotherapy. On this evening, the varsity boys basketball team has purchased #joeystrong t-shirts to wear in support of Joey, and we will be donating 100 percent of the concessions money toward Joey’s family.
Shullsburg………. 20 38 – 58
Highland…………. 23 15 – 38
Shullsburg – Lance Lierman 9, Hunter Matye 15, Jeremiah Bailey 8, Noah Wand 14, Nate Wedige 2, Joey Meyer 4, Cameron Doyle 6. Totals – 26 3-7 58.
Highland – S. Linscheid 4, B. Drury 5, JR Linscheid 14, Michek 4, Miller 11. Totals – 17 1-3 38.
3-point goals– S 3 (N. Wand 1, Doyle 2), H 3 (B. Drury 1, JR Linscheid 2). Total fouls– S 10, H 11. Fouled out– S: Matye.
Montezuma……… 16 11 9 7 – 43
Shullsburg………. 14 14 10 13 – 51
Montezuma – Losure 2, Strong 17, Helm 4, Price 20. Totals – 16 5-8 43.
Shullsburg – Lance Lierman 3, Alex Wand 1, Hunter Matye 21, Jeremiah Bailey 6, Noah Wand 5, Nate Wedige 2, Joey Meyer 8, Cameron Doyle 5. Totals – 18 10-17 51.
3-point goals– M 6 (Strong 3, Price 3), S 5 (Matye 3, N. Wand 1, Doyle 1). Total fouls– M 16, S 12. Fouled out– none.