Boys basketball: Panthers’ offense goes cold late in setback to Oconto

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Three Oconto Falls players score in double figures
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Oconto Falls guard Mitch Manns goes up for a layup while being defended by Oconto’s William Sherman (11) and Josh Woller during Friday’s nonconference battle at Oconto Falls High School. (Times Herald photo by Morgan Rode)

The Oconto River Rivalry was stocked full of points, but one cold stretch on offense was what determined the outcome of the game.

After closing to within two points after trailing by double digits, Oconto Falls went scoreless in the final five-plus minutes of the game in a 68-62 nonconference loss to Oconto on Friday at Oconto Falls High School.

A 3-pointer from senior Joe Schoen — the 12th and final triple for Oconto Falls (3-5) on the night — left the hosts with a 64-62 deficit. The Panthers had several good looks from deep in the closing minutes but could not convert.

Oconto Falls coach Kirk Hirst kept urging the team to get the ball inside, but Oconto’s zone made the 3-point shot too appealing.

“We told them to keep getting the ball in and out,” Hirst said. “When you’re not shooting the ball well, we got to get the ball inside and go to the basket. But we didn’t. We took 33 3s and when you don’t shoot the ball that well but you continue to shoot them — we preach that every day, we talk to the guys at length about it.”

“We just got to play a little better situational basketball,” senior Connor Peetz said. “We need to know to take it to the rim or get open 3s and not rush it would be the best opportunity to score, get back into it and compete with them. But it really was on the defensive end, we can’t give up 68 points to that team.”

After the first half featured offensive outbursts from both teams, the pace slowed considerably in the second half. Oconto (5-3) knocked down five 3-pointers in the first seven minutes of the half to pull ahead by nine points.

Despite the score trending in the wrong direction and the hosts seemingly coming up on the wrong end of most of the calls on the court, the Panthers kept fighting.

“We are just a team that, no matter what, we keep battling until the end. We’ve never had an issue with that,” Schoen said. “That’s something we take a lot of pride in. Every time we put this jersey on, we know that every time we step on the court that we’re going to bring it to every team — no matter how many points we are down by, or if we are up. We just don’t quit.”

“Every time we’re down, we think that we are coming back. We just got to make a few more shots here and there,” senior Dakota Carriveau. “It sucks that we get down though, we can’t get down. That kind of kills us at the end. We got to come out faster in the second half.”

Junior Mitch Manns led all scorers with 25 points, scoring 11 in the first half and 14 of the team’s 26 second half points.

Schoen added 13 points while Carriveau tallied 12. Carriveau hit four of the team’s 12 3-pointers.

Oconto (68)

Andrew Ramage 0-0 9, Hayden Honish 0-0 4, Caleb Moe 1-2 11, Zach Sherman 2-4 18, Josh Woller 4-7 15, Preston Wusterbarth 3-4 11.

Oconto Falls (62)

Dylan Nelson 0-0 3, Mitch Manns 9-9 25, Joe Schoen 2-6 13, Kade Brabant 1-1 3, Dakota Carriveau 0-0 12, Jarod Parson 0-2 0, Connor Peetz 0-0 6.

Oconto 34 34 — 68

Oconto Falls 36 26 — 62