SHULLSBURG — A lot has changed for the Shullsburg boys’ basketball team since their last appearance on the hardwood, but a new year brings new hope for the new-look Miners.
Shullsburg ended last season at the Kohl Center hoisting the silver Division 5 runner-up trophy. However, since March’s WIAA State Championship Game, the Miners graduated nine key members off last year’s 26-3 squad– including all five starters and seven of the team’s top eight scorers– and had long-time coach Mark Lierman retire after earning over 300 victories in his 30-year coaching career– including 141 wins in eight seasons with the boys’ program.
While losses like that are tough for any team to absorb, the Miners come into the 2017-18 season ready to write their own story.
Shullsburg’s first chapter came at home against Southwestern on Tuesday, Nov. 21; but, after shaving an 11-point halftime deficit down the two late in the second half, the Miners’ comeback came up short as the Wildcats held on for a 46-40 non-conference victory to spoil the debut for first-year head coach Luke Tyson.
“Overall, I was satisfied with our performance. I was happy to see our guys fight back in the second half to make it a competitive game,” said Coach Tyson. “Our defense was solid and kept us in the game, but we just didn’t make enough plays and knock down enough shots offensively. Decision making on offense and limiting turnovers has to be a focus for us moving forward.”
The Wildcats (1-0 overall) shot out to a 31-20 advantage on the Miners (0-1) after one half of play.
Shullsburg used a 10-5 scoring run early in the second half to trim the deficit to 36-30 and the score remained stuck there for over seven minutes as neither team could get a shot to fall.
Southwestern sophomore Brecklin Schneider halted the drought with a basket at the 5:46 mark to put the ‘Cats up 38-30, but the Miners answered with back-to-back 3-points by juniors Alex Wand and Jacob Berendes to cut the gap to 38-36 with 2:57 to play.
Baskets by Schneider and junior Dylan Rieken put the Wildcats up 42-37, and the guests went on to shoot 4-of-6 from the foul line over the final 44 seconds to put the game away.
Rieken finished with a game-high 24 points, while Schneider tallied 12 for the ‘Cats.
Berendes led the Miners with 17 points, eight rebounds, an assist and a blocked shot.
Wand chipped in with 15 points, five rebounds, four steals and an assist, while junior Griffin Wiegel added seven points, two steals and an assist for Shullsburg.
The Miners will travel to Darlington on Thursday, Nov. 30, for a non-conference game against the Redbirds, and they open Six Rivers West play at Cassville on Tuesday, Dec. 5.
Southwestern…… 31 15 – 46
Shullsburg………. 20 20 – 40
Southwestern – Schneider 12, Kephart 2, Jochum 5, Rieken 24, Reiff 3. Totals – 19 5-10 46.
Shullsburg – Jacob Berendes 17, Alex Wand 15, Griffin Wiegel 7, Isaac Hoppman 1. Totals – 16 2-4 40.
3-point goals– SW 3 (Jochum 1, Rieken 2), SH 6 (Berendes 3, Wand 2, Wiegel 1). Total fouls– SW 12, SH 18. Fouled out– SH: Wiegel.