EagleHerald Sports Editor
PESHTIGO—After opening up the season 1-4 with four straight losses, the Peshtigo boys basketball team is finally over .500 again as the Bulldogs picked up their fourth consecutive win with a 60-59 victory over Gibraltar to avenge an early-season 69-68 loss.
Time and time again this season, Peshtigo has found itself holding a lead late in the game, and over the four game losing streak the Bulldogs would always falter in those late game situations and allow the other team to come from behind to get the victory.
On this current winning streak, the Bulldogs have been able to get on the opposite side of that scenario as they have knocked down free throws late and played stellar defense in their new-look 3-2 zone.
“It always feels good when you win a close game. We’ve had a couple this year that went the other way and lost a couple games early by one or two points so it feels really good to get a close game win,” Peshtigo coach Jason Boucher said.
Trailing 59-56 with just over two minutes to play, Peshtigo’s Luke McMahon cut the deficit to one with a nice drive down the middle of the lane for a lefty-scoop layup that forced Gibraltar to take a timeout with 2:06 remaining.
Peshtigo’s defense stood strong the remainder of the game, not allowing Gibraltar to score another point and with 1:15 left in the game Landon Lemke stepped to the free throw line with a chance to tie or take the lead, but he missed both attempts.
The Bulldogs lucked out when Gibraltar missed the front end of a bonus opportunity with 22 seconds remaining to give Peshtigo a chance at the last shot.
After taking a timeout with 16 seconds left, Peshtigo ran through its offense and found nothing, but Lemke eventually got free in the lane and was fouled on a short jumper to go back to the line with four seconds left and a chance to redeem his two prior misses a minute earlier.
“I wanted to call a set play there out of the timeout but coach Berth and coach Neumann said lets just run our offense, see if we can get a cut to the basket and when we get to 10 seconds if we don’t have anything lets get in there and try to make something happen and Landon had a real nice curl cut, got the ball and went to the basket and got fouled,” Boucher said.
Lemke made the first to tie the game and had a word with his center, Collin Engman, before stepping back to the line and swishing the seocond to give Peshtigo the lead. Gibraltar’s last chance missed and the Bulldogs moved to 5-4 overall and 1-3 in the Packerland.
“I missed those two free throws earlier in the game and I’m not one to miss a lot of free throws. I hate missing them, my mom hates when I miss them so when I was at the line I was just picturing it going on and kept telling myself I got this,” Lemke said. “After I made the first one, for the first time ever I had Collin come up to me and say ‘Landon you got this’ and he’s usually the most monotoned person ever. That one little comment really gave me all the confidence I needed to put that one in. This was a great team win for us tonight.”
“Landon’s free throws at the end were obviously big. We only shot six free throws all night so we need to do a better job of getting to the line, but I was proud of him for knocking those two down after missing the two earlier,” Boucher said.
The way the game ended is similar to the way the whole game was as neither team could grab too much of a lead as there were 12 lead changes with seven coming in the first half.
Peshtigo took the biggest lead of the first half when the game was tied at 22 and McMahon scored on a baseline drive followed by a free throw line jumper and Mason Doberstein drilling a 3-pointer from the wing to take a 29-22 advantage.
After a Gibraltar timeout, the Vikings went on an 8-0 run of their own and took a 30-29 lead into halftime after Sam Lindenberg was fouled on a 3-point attempt and swished all three tries at the charity stripe.
Peshtigo was able to take control after halftime as it held a 40-38 lead with 13:20 to play and went on an 8-0 run over the next two minutes with buckets from Christian Boyle and Lemke.
The Bulldogs biggest lead of the night came after McMahon drove down the middle of the lane for a basket to give his team a 53-44 lead, but Gibraltar quickly got rid of that with triples from Lindenberg and Spencer Krause and a thunderous and-one dunk from Will Friedenfels.
Gibraltar took the lead on another trey from Lindenberg, but Lemke answered with one of his own to get the score to 56-55 leading into the final two minutes of action.
“We play so good for the first half or 30 minutes of the game, but then when it gets to the end it’s still like we forget what’s going on,” Boucher said. “We had a nine point lead with eight minutes to go and then started rushing shots on offense and getting lackluster on defense. But our kids play hard and that’s the most important thing for us right now. We play so hard and scrapped so hard and I’m happy for these guys that the feeling in the locker room switched a little tonight.”
Lemke led Peshtigo with 16 points, Adam Bauman added 11 points and five assists and Doberstein turned in an all-around game with six points, six assists, five rebounds and two steals. Lindenberg led all scorers with 20 points while Friedenfels, Krause and Luke Steebs had 10 each.
In JV action, Peshtigo had a rough game as the Bulldogs fell 65-27. Peyton Demmith led the way with eight points; Will McMahon added six in the first half; Landon Beyer scored six; Grant Bauman had three and Adam Reiswitz and Kavin Kleikamp had two each.
On Thursday, the Bulldogs played against Bonduel in what was an offensive struggle all night.
Peshtigo came away with a 41-33 victory while shooting 14-of-47 (29 percent) from the fieldand 5-25 (20 percent) from 3-point land. That was better than Bonduel, however, who shot 9-50 (18 percent) from the field and 5-26 (19 percent) from three.
Bauman led Peshtigo in scoring against Bonduel with 11 and Doberstein added nine. Peshtigo will now travel to Green Bay NEW Lutheran tonight for another Packerland Conference matchup.
GIBRALTAR (59)—Lindenberg 20, Friedenfels 10, Steebs 10, Krause 10, V. Jauregui 5, A. Jauregui 4. FTs: 9-13.
PESHTIGO (60)—Lemke 16, Bauman 11, Boyle 9, L. McMahon 8, Doberstein 6, Engman 6, Salem 4. FTs: 4-6.