By Paul Lecker
STRATFORD — Stratford had the sixth-ranked Auburndale boys basketball team on the ropes but could not find the bottom of the basket when it mattered most.
The Tigers missed their final five shot attempts and committed five turnovers as Auburndale closed the game on an 11-0 run to win 38-27 in a Marawood Conference South Division game Tuesday night at Stratford High School.
Auburndale, ranked sixth in this week’s WisSports.net Division 4 Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association state poll, improves to 2-0 overall in winning its conference-opener, while Stratford suffers its first loss and drops to 4-1 overall and 1-1 in the Marawood South.
Derrick Schmidt hit a 3-pointer on the opening possession of the fourth quarter for Stratford, tying the game at 27-27.
That was it for the Tigers, however, as Auburndale upped its effort on both ends of the floor to dominate the final 7 minutes.
A pair of baskets by Jake Lewis and 5 of 6 shooting from the free throw line powered the 11-0 run to give the Apaches the road victory.
“We lacked a little effort, especially rebounding early,” Auburndale coach Chad Weinfurter said. “That’s something from not having any early games. Not to make excuses, but that’s something that showed tonight. Josh (VanSchoick) hurt his back before the game, and put all that together, and we didn’t rebound well, but late in the game we did. In the fourth quarter, we didn’t give up many second shots.
“It always seems with Stratford both teams play pretty good defense, and you had to battle. Fortunately, our kids did a really good job in the fourth quarter of putting it away.”
Stratford jumped out to a 6-0 lead to start the game, but Auburndale called a timeout, regrouped, and managed to force a 7-7 tie at the end of the quarter when Matt Nikolay put back a rebound with 2 seconds to go.
Michael Bargender made two baskets in an 8-3 run that put the Tigers back on top 15-10 midway through the second quarter.
Stratford went cold from there, and Auburndale took advantage.
The Apaches scored the final seven points of the half and the first six of the third quarter to surge ahead 23-15. Stratford missed 10 straight shots during the Apaches’ 13-0 run that spanned more than 8 minutes.
“Once (Auburndale) went zone, then you have to hit outside shots,” Stratford coach Curt Schmidt said. “You can’t get easy layups against a zone, usually. We had some high post shots, we had some mid-range, we had some 3-point shots, good looks, and they just didn’t fall. That happens.
“That’s basketball. They got to the free throw pretty early in the second half, and they started building up some points.”
Jake Reif hit a 3-pointer, another basket, and two free throws, and Schmidt made a hoop in the closing seconds of the third quarter to bring the Tigers to within three.
Schmidt’s 3-pointer tied it 13 seconds into the fourth before the Tigers went through another dry spell, and Auburndale closed out the win.
“We played good defense and held Reif to a limited amount of shots,” said Lewis, who led Auburndale with 12 points. “On offense we struggled a little bit early but started knocking some shots down and started to pull away.”
Auburndale next hosts Wisconsin Rapids Assumption in a Marawood South matchup, and Stratford is at home for a nonconference game against Wisconsin Valley Lutheran on Friday.
(Hub City Times Sports Reporter Paul Lecker is also the publisher of MarshfieldAreaSports.com.)
Apaches 38, Tigers 27
Auburndale 7 10 10 11 – 38
Stratford 7 8 9 3 – 27
AUBURNDALE (38): Jake Lewis 4-8 3-4 12, Matt Nikolay 1-7 2-5 4, Bryan Gehrke 0-0 0-0 0, Cooper Krings 2-4 0-1 6, Tyler Weber 1-1 0-0 2, Alex Marth 2-4 0-0 4, Matt Lang 1-2 2-2 4, Dylan Peplinski 1-1 0-0 2, Josh VanSchoick 1-2 2-4 4. FG: 13-29. FT: 9-16. 3-pointers: 3-10 (Krings 2-3, Lewis 1-3, Nikolay 0-4). Rebounds: 21 (Nikolay 5). Turnovers: 11. Fouls: 8. Fouled out: none. Record: 2-0, 1-0 Marawood Conference South Division.
STRATFORD (27): Dawson Gebelein 1-6 0-0 2, Nick Stoflet 0-1 0-0 0, Michael Bargender 3-3 1-2 7, Ethan Nagel 0-0 0-0 0, Derrick Schmidt 2-4 0-0 5, Jake Reif 5-16 2-2 13, Jake Schmitt 0-4 0-0 0. FG: 11-34. FT: 3-4. 3-pointers: 2-15 (Reif 1-9, Schmidt 1-3, Gebelein 0-3). Rebounds: 17 (Bargender 6). Turnovers: 11. Fouls: 14. Fouled out: none. Record: 4-1, 1-1 Marawood South.