By Murray Gleffe, Correspondent
MARINETTE-The WIAA Boys Basketball playoffs started on a day when Spring Fever was in the air.
The Ashwaubenon Jaguars fell to the Marinette Marines behind their triple threat of Matt Wagner, Jake Poetzl, and Jordan Wendt.
The three combined for 44 points en route to a 57-47 victory over the Jaguars. (Feb. 27)
Anthony Guarascio had a team high 23 points for his final game in a Jaguars uniform.
Fellow Senior, Griffin Baierl, was the only other double-digit scorer with 10.
Both teams combined to hit only 6 of 34 three-point shots.
Ashwaubenon started Freshman Kyle Krueger to try and combat the Marines frontcourt size.
The Jaguars fell behind 9-2 after starting the game 1-9 from the floor.
The Marines then extended it to 22-9 (with 7:12 left till halftime) behind the inside play of 6-5 Wendt and Poetzl.
Each continually used their bulk to generate three to four foot looks in the paint.
“We had a lot of trouble with their size in the first half,” said Jaguars Basketball Coach Chris Karcz. “When we doubled one, the other was open and finished around the rim.”
The Jaguars clawed back just before half with the play of Baierl.
He first banked a left-handed layup home, and then on the Jaguars next possession left his defender ‘in his wake’ and put in a scoop shot to cut the margin back to single digits.
The Marines, however, closed on a mini run to take a 32-19 lead into halftime.
The Jaguars needed to shoot better and hit the glass if they were going to come out on top of the WIAA Regional Quarterfinal game.
The Marines had other ideas.
They built their biggest lead of the game at 39-23 (12:03 left in the game) after two-guard Matt Wagner got hot from the outside.
The Jaguars then decided enough was enough and mounted a comeback of their own.
Guarascio made a nifty back door cut to the basket and Jeremy Cox delivered him the ball resulting in a lay-up to start the upward swing.
The Jaguars then started forcing the Marines to take bad shots from the perimeter by changing to a sagging man to man defense.
Krueger capitalized on a fast break deuce and Guarascio corralled offensive rebounds and put home subsequent put backs.
After Cox nailed a triple from the top of the key, the Jaguars suddenly found themselves miraculously within two possessions of the Marines with just over three minutes remaining in the contest.
It was part of a 19-9 juggernaut that got the Jaguars back into the game.
In fact, the Jaguars had a chance to cut the Marines lead in half but turned the ball over on their next offensive set and the Marines made them pay by nailing seven free throws down the stretch to end Ashwaubenon’s season.
The Jaguars finish the 2017-18 campaign with a 5-18 mark.
“I’m proud at how we played the final 18 minutes,” added Karcz. “The Seniors gave it everything they had, and if we score coming down the floor down six maybe the outcome is different. I’m proud of the guys at how they adapted to a new system and played hard despite our record.”
Marinette/Ashwaubenon Box Score
Marinette 32,25, -57
Ashwaubenon 19,28, -47
Marines Final Totals: FG’s 19-54, 3 PT FG’s 4-18, FT’s 15-19, Rebounds 31, Steals 9, Personal Fouls 12
Wagner 19, Poetzl 14, Wendt 11, Stroming 6, Bretl 6, Fayta 1
Jaguars Final Totals: FG’s 20-58, 3 PT FG’s 2-16, FT’s 5-8, Rebounds 29, Steals 9, Personal Fouls 16
Guarascio 23, Baierl 10, Brooks 5, Krueger 4, Cox 3, Wendorf 2