EagleHerald Sports Editor
CRIVITZ—Juniors Koby Cuyler and Muaz Salem saved the day for the Peshtigo boys basketball team on Tuesday against Crivitz as the duo came off the bench and came up with big play after big play all night long to lead the Bulldogs to a 64-60 non-conference victory.
Cuyler led the Bulldogs in scoring with 15 points and added three steals while Salem chipped in 12, none bigger than a free throw with 19 seconds remaining to give the Bulldogs their 64-60 lead and they were able to hang on in the end after drawing an offensive foul with 6.4 seconds left to seal the game.
“Koby and Muaz were both ready tonight,” Peshtigo coach Jason Boucher said. “They came in and gave us a huge spark off the bench and that’s what you need in high school. You need nine or ten guys that are willing to get in there and do exactly what’s needed of them, and tonight our bench really saved us in the second half and it all started with those two. We might not have held Crivitz off tonight without them.”
To start the second half of action after Peshtigo held a 33-32 halftime lead thanks to a full court dribble and layup from Salem with seconds remaining, Crivitz went on a 6-0 run with baskets from Eian Baumann, Seth Sellen and Sean Christiansen to take a 38-33 lead and gain the momentum.
It was quickly taken away, however, as Peshtigo’s Landon Lemke finally got the lid off the basket with 14:26 left in the half on a 3-pointer and Salem gave the Bulldogs the lead again with a wide open triple and a tough basket inside to force Crivitz into a timeout at the 13:13 mark.
From that point, Peshtigo went on a 17-4 run capped off by Cuyler jumping the passing lane for a fastbreak layup and then canning a 3-pointer from the wing to give the Bulldogs a 58-44 lead until Christiansen made a basket in the post as Peshtigo called time with just over five minutes remaining.
Out of the timeout, Crivitz went into a 1-3-1 half-court trap and for the next four minutes, Peshtigo could hardly cross the timeline due to the Wolverines’ relentless pressure led by Baumann at the top.
Crivitz continually forced turnovers and bad shots and, unlike the game prior where the Wolverines went 7-of-23 at the free throw line, they were nearly perfect from the stripe this time around going 23-28 including 5-8 in that four-minute stretch to get back in the game and cut the Bulldogs’ lead to 58-55 after two makes from Baumann.
“I wasn’t sure what was going to happen when we put the trap on, but we were playing so poorly and the momentum was shifted so far at that point I just figured it couldn’t hurt. Sometimes you just try something and it works a lot better than you think it might, and it really took Peshtigo out of their game and let us back in it,” Crivitz coach Jeff Baumann said.
Peshtigo was finally able to end the run after grabbing an offensive rebound after a missed free throw and finding Cuyler open on the weak side of the floor for an easy layup to force Crivitz into its final timeout with 39.1 to play.
Needing to make something happen out of the timeout, Crivitz looked to Baumann to provide the spark and he came through as he was fouled on a 3-point attempt and made all three to make it 61-58 with 33.6 ticks left.
Crivitz put on a full-court press after the free throws, and Cuyler caught the ball on the right sideline and streaked up the floor to beat the press and found Salem in the middle of the court. Salem was fouled on a layup attempt and missed both free throws, but it didn’t hurt as the ball went out of bounds off a Crivitz player to keep possession with Peshtigo.
On the inbound, Cuyler was fouled and sent to the line for a double-bonus opportunity and he sank both with to put his team up 63-58 with 27 seconds left. Crivitz’s Tegan Werner was fouled on a drive on the other end of the floor and made both free throws leading to Salem being fouled with 19 seconds remaining.
To that point in the second half, Salem was 0-7 from the free throw line after going a smooth 2-2 in the first half, and all he needed was one to make it a two-possession game. Tensions rose when he missed the first, but he stepped back to the line on the second and rattled it home. As a team, Peshtigo shot 13-22 from the free throw line.
“It’s the same as the first couple games of the season. We play so good for a certain amount of time, we get a lead and then we forget what’s going on,” Boucher said. “I think we get in too much of a hurry when we see pressure. We just need to take our time and get the ball where it needs to get, but free throws is going to kill us one of these times. We have to do a better job as a team of making free throws. We’re lucky to get out of here tonight with a win.”
Peshtigo took its biggest lead of the first half with just under seven minutes to play on back-to-back triples from Cuyler to go up 17-12, but neither team was able to grab too big of a lead in the first 18 minutes of play as the game went back-and-forth.
With the score at 21-19 in favor of the Wolverines, Crivitz’s Chad Schroeder cashed a wide-open corner 3-pointer and there was a whistle on the play for an off-ball foul on Peshtigo that sent Baumann to the line for a bonus opportunity. He made both, and a three-point possession turned into five just like that as Crivitz grabbed a 26-19 lead.
Trailing 30-24, Salem took matters into his own hands with a baseline drive he was fouled on and sank both free throws. Following a Crivitz turnover on the ensuing trip down court, Adam Bauman grabbed an offensive rebound for Peshtigo and put it back up for a bucket to get within two, and on the inbounds pass Mason Doberstein stepped in front for a quick layup and the foul. He made the free throw to give Peshtigo a 31-30 lead to finish off a wild sequence with 25 seconds in the half.
Crivitz’s Bauman regained the lead for his team with a drive to the bucket and that led to Salem’s full-court layup to head into halftime.
Bauman led all scorers with 22 points and added five assists and two steals; Christiansen had 12 points and five rebounds and Sellen and Werner each scored 10.
For Peshtigo, Lemke scored 14 and added eight rebounds; Bauman had 11 points and Doberstein had nine to back up Cuyler’s 15 and Salem’s 12. As a team, Peshtigo had 29 bench points to Crivitz’s six.
Next up for Peshtigo (3-4 overall, 0-3 Packerland) is a home game on Saturday against Gibraltar at 7:30 p.m. while Crivitz (4-4, 3-0 M&O) travels to STAA (2-8, 1-4 M&O) tonight.
PESHTIGO (64)—Cuyler 15, Lemke 14, Salem 12, Bauman 11, Doberstein 9, L. McMahon 2, Boyle 1. FTs: 13-22.
CRIVITZ (60)—Baumann 22, Christiansen 12, S. Sellen 10, Werner 10, Schroeder 3, A. Sellen 3. FTs: 23-28.