Bulldogs Hold Off Marines In Tight Season OpenerIssue Date: December 2, 2020
The Peshtigo Bulldogs couldn't quite pull away from the Marinette Marines in their season opener Tuesday, but they did enough to hold on for their first win of the season.
Peshtigo topped Marinette by a 69-61 score at the end of the game, but it took a monumental effort to get there.
Marinette started the game off with a 9-2 lead, but Peshtigo settled into things and took an eventual 18-11 lead after a 16-2 run of its own.
First-year Peshtigo coach Jason Boucher said Marinette "punched Peshtigo in the mouth" to start things off, with his team showing some first-game jitters. They would slow things down and find an offensive rhythm, however.
"Once we get enough guys in the game and enough guys loose and we work the ball around, we've got a really good offense," Boucher said.
The teams would go back and forth for the rest of the game from that point on. Just before the half, it looked like Peshtigo wanted to start pulling away, taking a 33-24 lead, but Marinette countered with a couple of buckets to leave the score at 35-30 going into the break, including a couple of big three-pointers late from Asaia Polazzo, who would finish the first half with 16 points and the game with a game-high 22.
The intensity for both sides picked up in the second half, with the Marines scratching and clawing to cut into a Bulldogs lead and Peshtigo trying to hold them off. Peshtigo would stretch its lead to eight on a couple of occasions, but it couldn't quite get over that double-digit hump and begin to blow the Marines out.
The Marines tied the game at 47 on a Jacob Sommerfeldt three-pointer, but Peshtigo quickly re-established a 52-47 lead off baskets by Adam Bauman and Landon Lemke.
Marinette took its first lead of the game since the teams had less than 10 points on the scoreboard with a late 55-54 lead on an and-one three-pointer by freshman Sam Sommerfeldt.
"That was probably the biggest shot we hit all game," Marinette coach Matt Joost said. "That's why he's up as a freshman is moments like that and he came through with flying colors, so I was really proud of that."
At that point, it was looking like the momentum was headed the way of the Marines, but Peshtigo stepped up and took control back with Mason Doberstein driving to the lane for two and Mauz Salem scooping up a loose ball and scoring.
Doberstein led Peshtigo with 17 points, 14 of which came in the second half.
Peshtigo wouldn't look back from that point on, stretching the lead to a game-high 11 in the final minute and ending up with a hard-fought eight-point win. Despite some free-throw troubles, going 10-for-21 from the line in the game, Peshtigo was pretty solid down the stretch to close things out.
Boucher was proud of his team's effort in what is an abnormal season for all teams, but especially a team of only two seniors and a first-year head coach.
"This whole year's going to be different," Boucher said. "We tell the kids every day, this is the first game of the year, but it could very well be the last. Those kids played like it was their last game tonight. I've never been more proud of 12, 13, 14 guys. They left it all on the court and that's all you can ask."
Bauman gave Peshtigo 15 points before leaving the game in the second half with an ankle injury. He carried the first-half scoring with 13 in the period. Salem scored 12. Peshtigo shot 40% from the field as a team. The Bulldogs out-rebounded the Marines led by Salem who hauled in seven boards. Lemke and Collin Engman grabbed six each. Peshtigo shot 47% from the free throw line connecting on only 10 of their 21 attempts. Marinette faired much better from the line making 14 of 20 attempts for 70%.
Beyond Polazzo's 22, Jacob Sommerfeldt had 19 for Marinette, as those two shouldered most of the scoring load. Carson Erdman had seven points. Polazzo and Erdman were the leading rebounders for the Marines.
Joost said the Marines need to work the ball around and perfect some spots off their offense, but he also said he was happy with his team's effort in the first game of the season.
"I always tell them I'll always accept any outcome as long as the effort is there for 36 minutes," Joost said. "There were a couple of times it could have really gotten away from us and it could have gotten to 15 or 20 and we battled back. All nine guys that played were part of that. They played their butts off the entire game."
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