Defense comes up big for Comets in first win
It wasn’t pretty by any stretch of the imagination, but the Waupaca girls’ basketball team has its first win in four tries.
The Comets overcame a sluggish third quarter and held on for a 28-20 Eastern Valley Conference win Dec. 13 over Winneconne.
“They’re pretty excited in the locker room,” co-coach Laine Lazers said. “They really enjoyed that win. It was ugly out there at times. We just couldn’t get some of those inside shots to fall for us. I think we were seven-for-20 in free throws.”
Winneconne struggled from the floor as well.
Josee Waitrovich scored all six of the Comets’ points in the first quarter as Waupaca took a 6-2 lead into the second quarter. Waupaca also outscored the Wolves 7-5 in the second quarter to take a 13-7 halftime lead.
Morgan Smith picked up her third foul midway through the second quarter, while another Waupaca starter, Sydney Brooks, also picked up two quick fouls.
“We had a different mix of subs coming in because we got in foul trouble early,” Lazers said. “We had to make some switches.”
Winneconne chipped away at the Comets’ lead in the third quarter and trailed 15-14 heading into the final period. Mikayla Becker hit a pair of free throws to give the Wolves a 16-15 lead early in the fourth quarter, but Sierra Patzke gave the Comets the lead for good with Waupaca’s only three-pointer of the game.
“I was just watching that shot when it left her hand and I thought, ‘That’s going in,’ and it did,” Lazers said. “I was a little nervous there when they came back and took the lead on us. We had a little down spurt, but we picked it back up and took control.”
Lizzi Hanke’s basket gave the Comets a 23-17 lead late in the game and Smith hit five of six free throws in the final minute to seal the win.
“I was talking to Morgan coming out of the locker room at halftime and I said, ‘You’re going to be in this game, you just have to make sure that you’re smart about it,’” Lazers said. “She did a great job at the end.”
He also singled out the defensive play of Macie Davidson, who came off of the bench and played several minutes.
“She’s athletic,” Lazers said. “She can get up and down the floor and when she wants to get up there, she can go after it. I watched her play volleyball this fall. She can get up on the net in volleyball and she’s bringing it right here to the basketball court, too.
“Her and Josee work so well together,” he added. “They can get up and down the floor and that’s the key. We didn’t have Macie with us when we were at FVL and it made a little bit of a difference on defense.”
Smith led the Comets with nine points, while Waitrovich finished with seven.
The Comets traveled to New London Dec. 17 for a nonconference game and will return to EVC play at 7:15 tonight (Thursday, Dec. 19) at home against Berlin. That will be Waupaca’s final game before the Comets play at Wittenberg-Birnamwood Friday, Jan. 3.
“You look at the score of 28-20 and I don’t know if I’ve been around that low of a scoring game since sixth-grade traveling, but a win is a win and we’ll take it,” Lazers said. “We just have to start hitting more shots. If you can’t put the ball in the basket, it doesn’t matter what you do.”