EagleHerald Sports Editor
PESHTIGO—It was win or go home for the Peshtigo boys basketball team on Tuesday in the Bulldogs’ WIAA Division 3 regional playoff opener, and senior Adam Bauman played the best game of his career to ensure his team would live to see another day.
Every time Peshtigo was in need of a basket, Bauman found a way to get the ball in his hands and he consistently delivered with tough baskets in the paint, scoring 16 points in the first half and finishing the game with 15 in the second for a career-high 31 to lead his team to an 85-63 steamrolling of Oconto Falls.
“I didn’t want to go home at all. We came into this game knowing we had to focus and get by this one before we moved on to anything else, and I’m glad we came into this one with the energy we did to get a win,” Bauman said. “Our mentality was just to be strong, out-hustle and out-heart them and that’s what we did.”
“Adam was tremendous tonight,” Peshtigo coach Jason Boucher said. “He didn’t want this to be his last game. He got whatever he wanted inside the paint, didn’t settle for three’s and really carried us offensively tonight.”
Peshtigo started the game trailing early on, but quickly erased that as Bauman scored 10 of the Bulldogs first 18 points in the first 11 minutes of the game to hold an 18-13 lead with seven minutes until half.
Over the next seven minutes, Oconto Falls scored just two more baskets aside from free throws as Bauman was the driving force in a 15-9 Peshtigo run to end the half as the Bulldogs took a 35-22 lead into the break.
One of the major reasons Peshtigo was able to dominate the game the way it did was the way the Bulldogs rebounded the basketball.
Peshtigo had 52 total rebounds (17 offensive) to the Panthers’ 20, led by Landon Lemke with 13 and Christian Boyle with 10.
“Our kids showed a lot of heart tonight on the glass,” Boucher said. “That was a big reason why we were able to stay in control for much of the game.”
Oconto Falls started to fight back in the second half after Bauman started things off with a jumper and a drive to the hoop to take a 41-24 lead.
The Panthers’ Isaac Raddatz knocked home four straight free throws and Braden Uelmen hit a pair of his own for a quick 6-0 run in the span of a minute.
Peshtigo broke the run up with a basket, but the Panthers responded with a basket in the lane, a triple from Uelman and a steal for an easy layup by Raddatz to cut the deficit to 43-37.
Sensing his team was in need of a basket, Bauman caught the ball at the top of the key on the Bulldogs’ next possession and calmly drained a triple, and after a Raddatz basket, Mason Doberstein got in on the action with a wide-open 3-pointer from the corner to hike the lead back to 10 (49-39).
Oconto Falls got within seven after a three-point play from Raddatz, and that’s when Lemke came alive for the Bulldogs and gave them the spark they needed.
With his team leading 51-44, Lemke scored on a drive to the basket before spotting up for an open triple from the right wing to bump the lead to 12.
After an Oconto Falls trey that got the lead back down to single digits, Lemke and Muaz Salem scored baskets in the paint on back-to-back possessions, but the Panthers’ again answered the call with a triple from Carter Hill and free throws from Raddatz to make it a 60-54 game.
From that point on, it was all Peshtigo. Bauman started the final run by swishing home a pair of free throws with 7:17 left to play, and Lemke took over after that, scoring 13 points and doing it from all over the floor to help his team secure the victory. He had 20 in the second half to finish with 24 points to add to his 13 rebounds.
“This is a big win for us. The seeding didn’t exactly go in our favor, and these guys wanted to come in and play us,” Lemke said. “You just have to come in and play basketball no matter what. It all started with our energy from Muaz and Adam on both ends of the floor. It just feels so good to get a win like this to give our seniors another game. We have a couple more practices to prepare for Wrightstown, and that’s a very skilled team. We just have to get ready because when it comes to tournament time anything can happen.”
Peshtigo (13-9) will now have a tall task ahead of them in Friday’s contest against No. 1-seeded Wrightstown (20-4).
“It’s going to be a hostile environment going to their place, but we have two days to prepare. If we show the same heart and energy that we did tonight, it has the potential to be a very close game up there,” Boucher said.
OCONTO FALLS (63)—Raddatz 23, Uelman 19, Seager 6, Hirst 5, Hill 3, Vandermoss 3, Temple 2, Joachim 2. FTs: 15-23.
PESHTIGO (85)—Bauman 31, Lemke 24, Salem 10, Boyle 7, Doberstein 5, L. McMahon 4, Engman 2, Berth 2. FTs: 12-19.