High school boys basketball: Stegeman-led Suring boys fend off Gillett

Lally, Geniesse join Stegeman in double figures

Shannon Morrell, Times Herald Correspondent

The first half of the Friday night (Jan. 4) game between Marinette & Oconto Conference rivals Suring and Gillett looked to have the makings of a lopsided rout. The Eagles started out the game dominating both ends of the court, finishing the half with a commanding 37-14 lead.

The second half was another story.

Gillett coach Russ Long settled his team down and made the necessary halftime adjustments as the Tigers stormed back, opening the second half with a furious 16-3 run. In the end, a combination of clutch shooting and tight defense — along with some spectacular plays by Eagles senior Mitchell Stegeman — was too much for the Tigers to overcome, as Suring (7-3, 4-2 Marinette & Oconto Conference) held on for a hard-fought 66-53 victory.

With their shots finally starting to drop, most notably three timely 3-pointers by Tigers sharpshooter Logan Krause, Gillett (4-6, 2-4 M&O) narrowed the gap to six points.

“I’m proud of the way our guys battled back,” said Long. “But you can’t spot a good team 20-some points and expect to win.”

Long attributed cold shooting and missed free throw attempts to his team’s slow start, but the coach was gracious in defeat.

“Give Suring credit. They’re well coached, and they played a very good game,” he said.

With only 10 miles separating the two towns, Gillett and Suring have a longstanding rivalry. It showed in this game, with at times some good-natured trash talking between opponents who were very familiar with each other.

“I knew this game would be a dogfight,” said Eagles coach Jim Keefe. “They’re like our cross-town rivals. The kids know each other, and there’s a lot of pride on the line when we play them.”

Keefe attributed the play of Stegeman as a key component to Suring maintaining its lead throughout the second half.

The lanky point guard, who will be heading to UW-Eau Claire in the fall, made several outstanding plays in the second half on both ends of the court, including a steal and breakaway that he completed with a resounding highlight reel dunk.

On that particular play, he said the only thought that went through his mind as he was racing down court was to not fall.

“They’re our arch rivals, and I always want to get a dunk on these guys,” he said. “We didn’t panic and believed in ourselves down the stretch and believed we would come out on top.”

Stegeman finished the contest with a game-high 22 points for the Eagles, followed by Caleb Lally, who scored 12 points, and Jayden Geniesse, who contributed 11. Ethan Hischke and Dequez Sepulveda each chipped in seven points.

Cole Long led the way for Gillett, finishing with 16 points. Also scoring in double figures for the Tigers were Logan Block, who finished with 13 points, and Logan Krause, who added 12.

Suring (66)

Duncan Breed 1-2 1, Jayden Geniesse 0-0 11, Ethan Hischke 1-1 7, Nick Buhrandt 0-2 4, Mitchell Stegeman 3-5 22, Caleb Lally 1-4 12, Josh Reed 0-0 2, Dequez Sepulveda 1-1 7.

Gillett (53)

Cole Long 8-9 16, Ben Frank 0-4 6, Logan Block 3-6 13, Logan Krause 1-1 12, Bo Krueger 0-2 0, Elijah Framnes 0-0 5, Anthony Carroll 1-2 1.

Suring 37 29 — 66

Gillett 14 39 — 53