By Paul Lecker
Stratford comeback falls short
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Down 24 points with 10 minutes left, Stratford stormed back and had a chance to pull ahead in the final seconds, but fell short and lost to Marathon 64-61 in a battle of Marawood Conference South Division leaders Dec. 21 at Stratford High School.
The loss is the first of the season for Stratford, which drops to 8-1 overall and 5-1 in the Marawood South. Marathon improves to 7-1 and 5-1 in conference play. With Auburndale’s loss to Edgar, Auburndale, Marathon and Stratford are tied for the conference lead.
Marathon controlled the game throughout the first 28 minutes, building a 57-33 lead after a 20-11 run to start the second half.
Trent Heckel and Teddy Redman hit back-to-back 3-pointers to spark Stratford on both ends of the floor.
The Tigers forced turnovers on four straight Marathon possessions, and 10 in all over a six-minute stretch to climb back in the game.
Vaughn Breit hit a pair of baskets, and Heckel and Chander Schmidt added 3-pointers in a 14-0 run that brought Stratford to within 59-55 with 3:25 remaining in the game.
Stratford got as close as two at 63-61 on a basket by Benjamin Barten with 32 seconds left, but the Tigers wouldn’t score again.
After Marathon missed its fourth free throw in a row in the final 1:23, Stratford had a chance to tie the game or take the lead, but a 3-point attempt by Redman missed. Marathon’s Carter Hanke rebounded and made one free throw with 1.1 seconds left.
A desperation 3-pointer from three-quarters court was blocked as time expired.
Columbus rolls at Gilman
Marshfield Columbus Catholic used a big first half to roll to its seventh-straight victory, a 75-43 win at Gilman on Dec. 21.
The Dons ran out to a 43-16 lead by halftime and are now 7-1 overall and 5-0 in the Cloverbelt Conference East Division. Gilman drops to 2-5 overall and 2-4 in the conference.
Eleven different Columbus Catholic players scored in the victory, led by senior guard Nick Malovrh, who scored 28 points. Jarred Mandel added 12 for the Dons.
Marshfield loses at Eau Claire North
Marshfield fell behind by 17 points by halftime and couldn’t recover, dropping a 74-52 decision to Eau Claire North in a nonconference game Dec. 21.
The Tigers shot just 42 percent (24 of 57) and committed 16 turnovers in the loss, falling to 4-5 this season.
North (5-1) cruised out to a 39-22 lead by halftime and held on from there.
Seth Anderson continued his hot streak for Marshfield, scoring a team-high 25 points in the loss. Reed Miller added 12 points, and both had seven rebounds. Issac Meverden also had seven rebounds and six assists for the Tigers.