By Paul Lecker
MARSHFIELD — For the third game in a row, the Marshfield boys basketball team went down to the final possession.
And, unfortunately for the Tigers, they were not able to pull out a victory.
Marshfield was unable to get a shot attempt during two late possessions and came up a basket short Friday night, losing 40-38 to Wausau East in a Wisconsin Valley Conference matchup at The Boson Company Fieldhouse at Marshfield High School.
Marshfield trailed 38-34 after a 3-pointer and a steal and basket by East’s Ben Schubring.
Adam Fravert scored with 2:54 to go and added a pair of free throws with 1:24 left to tie the game.
JP Lacy made one of two free throws with 37.9 seconds to go to put East back up by one, and Marshfield tried to run the clock down for a final attempt at winning the game. However, the Tigers turned the ball over as a pass sailed high, which Fravert caught it out of bounds.
After a foul Jaden Rutkowski made one of two free throws to give the Lumberjacks a two-point lead, and Marshfield called a timeout with 1.2 seconds to go.
A long pass down court to Fravert again sailed out of bounds, and East (7-13, 3-8 Wisconsin Valley Conference) was able to run out the clock to complete a season-sweep of the Tigers (6-15, 2-9 Wisconsin Valley Conference).
“What I wanted was to draw some help and kick the ball out and get a decent 3-point attempt,” Marshfield coach Bill Zuiker said. “We struggle to make teams help because we don’t get to the rim very effectively. We weren’t able to draw anybody out, and we end up throwing the ball out of bounds.
“I told the guys, ‘After a while you start to wonder if this is just who we are.’ I have a hard time wrapping my head around that. There are some things that can’t control, but some things you can. Free throw shooting is one of those things. It’s tough for us to play, even down two points late in a game, because we struggle to make one-on-one plays.”
The game was tight throughout as Marshfield led by five in the second quarter, and East pulled in front by five in the third quarter.
A 3-pointer by Tanner Boson, who led the Tigers with 12 points, brought Marshfield to within two at 30-28 heading into the fourth quarter.
A basket by Caleb Alexander and two free throws from Boson put Marshfield ahead briefly.
The lead changed hands twice before East pulled ahead on Schubring’s five points midway through the fourth.
Following Fravert’s basket at the 2:54 mark, the Tigers were only able to attempt one shot from the field as their offense wilted.
“We’ve had so many changes to get leads in the first half of games, and we flitter it away,” Zuiker said. “We don’t seem to be able to stand prosperity. There is a little bit of timidity out there, and I think that occurs sometimes when you get that ‘Here we go again’ mentality. I talked to them about playing harder tonight. We play at times that we’re afraid to take it, and that’s a surefire recipe for not getting it.”
Marshfield was 10 of 17 from the free throw line and shot just 33 percent (12 of 36) from the field as it dropped its third game in a row, all decided by three points or less.
The Tigers will wrap up their regular-season schedule with a home game against Wausau West at 7:30 p.m. Thursday. The game will be broadcast on WDLB-AM 1450 and wdlbwosq.com. The pairings for the WIAA boys basketball playoffs, which begin March 6 in Division 1, will be announced Sunday.
(Hub City Times Sports Reporter Paul Lecker is also the publisher of MarshfieldAreaSports.com.)
Lumberjacks 40, Tigers 38
Wausau East 9 7 14 10 – 40
Marshfield 9 8 11 10 – 38
WAUSAU EAST (40): Dylan Hamlin 3-4 2-2 8, Thomas Dunbar 0-1 2-3 2, Jaden Rutkowski 2-8 1-3 6, Charlie Keefe 0-1 0-0 0, JP Lacy 4-11 4-6 13, Jordan Heiting 0-2 0-0 0, Tim Nass 1-3 0-0 3, Ben Schubring 3-5 0-0 8, Adam Petersen 0-0 0-0 0, Joe Artz 0-1 0-0 0. FG: 13-36. FT: 9-14. 3-pointers: 5-14 (Schubring 2-3, Nass 1-2, Lacy 1-3, Rutkowski 1-4, Keefe 0-1, Heiting 0-1). Rebounds: 28 (Lacy 7). Turnovers: 13. Fouls: 13. Fouled out: none. Record: 7-13, 3-8 Wisconsin Valley Conference.
MARSHFIELD (38): Caleb Alexander 2-5 2-5 6, Tanner Boson 3-12 4-4 12, Kegan Fassler 0-1 1-2 1, Alec Hinson 2-4 0-0 6, Will Spindler 2-4 1-4 5, Jordan Schlinsog 0-2 0-0 0, Adam Fravert 3-8 2-2 8. FG: 12-36. FT: 10-17. 3-pointers: 4-12 (Hinson 2-4, Boson 2-7, Fravert 0-1). Rebounds: 21 (Fravert 7). Turnovers: 8. Fouls: 13. Fouled out: none. Record: 6-15, 2-9 Wisconsin Valley Conference.