By Paul Lecker
MARSHFIELD — Confidence can breed success, and after the first half of its WIAA playoff opener on March 6 at Chippewa Falls, the Marshfield boys basketball team had plenty of it.
The Tigers got hot from the 3-point line early and went on to knock off Chippewa Falls 57-34, scoring their most points in a game in over a month.
Marshfield took that momentum into last Saturday’s Division 1 regional final at Hudson, putting up a season-high 67 points in a 67-61 victory to win its second-straight regional championship. The Tigers (8-16) came back from an eight-point deficit in the second half to pull out the win.
Marshfield (8-16) will play Superior (20-4) in a WIAA Division 1 sectional semifinal at 7 p.m. Thursday at Eau Claire North High School. The winner will take on either Stevens Point (23-1) or Neenah (20-4) in a sectional final Saturday night at Wausau West High School.
“We shot it well, and I thought we defended the heck out of Chippewa Falls,” Marshfield coach Bill Zuiker said. “We went in knowing it would be tough. They had beat us earlier in the year, but they had lost their last game and weren’t really flying high going into the playoffs.
“These kids all season, they haven’t quit and haven’t given up on themselves or on me, and they got a payoff out of it. I was so thrilled they could realize some rewards. They worked hard and prepared hard.”
Marshfield struggled offensively for much of the season, scoring 50 points or more only twice in its last nine games.
The Tigers were able to turn it around in the two playoff wins and embrace an underdog mentality, something that was the complete opposite of last season when Marshfield was a No. 1 seed and expected to make a run to the sectionals.
“Coach gets us prepared every night for who we are going to play, and we’re just playing basketball,” senior guard Caleb Alexander said.
Marshfield got big games from different players each night.
In the semifinal win over Chippewa Falls, Tanner Boson was 5-for-6 and Alexander was 3-for-4 from 3-point range, scoring 22 and 15 points, respectively.
Against Hudson, junior forward Adam Fravert hit for 20 points, and senior reserve guard Jordan Schlinsog scored 15. The Tigers combined to make 17 of 33 3-pointers and shot 57 percent overall.
“We changed our offense a little bit, making four guys out to get a little more driving action and kick it out and shoot,” Boson said. “That really helped us. We’ve been doing a lot of shooting drills lately to get our shots up, and we just shot it a lot better.”
Marshfield’s roster boasts seven seniors, six of whom have played significant minutes lately. After entering the playoffs on a four-game losing streak—all of which came by three points or less—it was the seniors that banded together to stay positive.
“One of my main goals was keeping the guys focused, keeping them strong with the ball and telling these guys to compete, which is what we wanted to do, compete every night,” Alexander said.
“Anything can happen in the playoffs,” Boson added. “Nothing is guaranteed. Our coach got us to believe. We’ve been having some good weeks of practice, and those close games, they were motivators for us.”
(Hub City Times Sports Reporter Paul Lecker is also the publisher of MarshfieldAreaSports.com.)