By Murray Gleffe, Correspondent
ASHWAUBENON-18 of 20 from the charity stripe. The Ashwaubenon Jaguar boys’ basketball team connected on 90% of their free throws Tuesday evening (Jan. 9) and surprised the Green Bay Southwest Trojans by a final of 64-61.
Anthony Guarascio led the Jaguars with 26 points, and Griffin Baierl added 9.
The Trojans took an early 6-2 lead behind the play of Cole Bouche and Will Pytleski. Each maneuvered their way into the lane to score easy buckets.
The Jaguars then took control with Guarascio’s three-point shooting.
He hit one after the other to propel the team on a 17-6 run that put the Jaguars up 19-12 with 8:20 left in the half.
All of the shots were made possible by the excellent distribution of the two guards Will Adair and Jeremy Cox.
Just before half, Ben Wendorf came off the Jaguar bench and provided a spark on the defensive end. He limited Pytleski from going off.
The Jaguars took a 29-22 lead into intermission thanks to two elbow jumpers from Cox in the final minute.
The Jaguar players and staff knew the Trojans couldn’t be contained the entire game, and that is exactly what happened to open the second half.
The Trojans went to a full court trapping press that forced the Jaguars into three turnovers, and a number of bad possessions.
It all added up to a 12-2 run for the Trojans that gave them the lead once again at 34-31 with 14:20 left in the ball game.
“We were in uncharted territory having the lead at the half,” added Chris Karcz, Jaguar Basketball Coach. “They made their run, but we hung in there by taking care of the ball and not panicking during that time frame.”
Over the course of the next eight minutes, no team had a lead greater than three points. Every Trojan basket was answered by a Jaguar hoop.
With 6:14 left in the game, the Jaguars got the big shot they needed when Wendorf hit a three pointer (47-43) from the top of the key. It extended the lead to more than a one possession game for the home team.
The Trojans evened the game one last time at 49 apiece on an inbounds play that Bouche finished off with a layup. It didn’t last long!
The Jaguars quickly brought the ball up the court and Guarascio hit a bomb from 26 feet out to put them in the lead for good at 52-49 with 2:48 left in the contest.
The Jaguars then went into a stall on the offensive end that resulted in the Trojans having to foul to put them in the bonus. Up that point, there had been only seven fouls called in the entire second half.
Baierl started the run of free throws to put the Jaguars up five points, and it didn’t end till Adair hit two clutch free throws to end the game.
In fact, the Jaguars final 12 points all came from the free throw line.
All the countless hours spent practicing from 15 feet out finally paid off for the Jaguars as they got their signature win of the season.
“We talk about it all the time in practice that free throws can win you games and they can lose you games,” commented Karcz. “We haven’t gotten to the line 20 times in the last few games combined so I was really happy with the aggressive takes and then the ability to calmly sink the shots. We finally did the things down the stretch to get a huge home victory over an excellent team.”
The Jaguars improve to 2-9 overall and will be back in action on Jan. 12 when they travel to Notre Dame to take on the Tritons.
Green Bay Southwest/Ashwaubenon Box Score
Green Bay Southwest 22,39, -61
Ashwaubenon 29,35, -64
Trojan Totals: FG’s 25-49, 3 PT FG’s 2-13, FT’s 9-16, Rebounds 18, Steals 5, Personal Fouls 16
Bouche 20, Stieber 16, Pytleski 11, Landry 9, Melchert 5
Jaguar Totals: FG’s 19-41, 3 PT FG’s 8-17, FT’s 18-20, Rebounds 18, Steals 1, Personal Fouls 16
Guarascio 26, Baierl 9, Cox 8, Wendorf 6, Adair 6, Wood 5, Brooks 4