By Brian Kalish
November 29, 2018
Wausau– If high school basketball games lasted 34 minutes instead of 36 minutes, the Wausau West Warriors would have picked up their second win of the season on Thursday night against Lakeland.
Unfortunately for West, those final two minutes count.
Despite having the upper hand for the latter stages of the first half– when they closed out the opening frame with a 13-0 run– and nearly the entire second half, the Warriors absolutely unraveled in the closing minutes and lost in heartbreaking fashion by the final score of 61-58.
West coach Nate Lemmens knew that his young team was going to experience some growing pains in the 2018-19 campaign, but that probably doesn’t make this loss any easier to stomach.
“We’re so young, you know?” said Lemmens. “For them to be in that position, you want them to close it, but they’ve got to figure it out. We took some bad shots down the stretch, ill advised, and we had some bad turnovers. Those things can’t happen, and an experienced team doesn’t do them.”
The key play of the game came with one minute remaining in regulation when Lakeland’s Mason Wolfe stole West’s inbounds pass, made a strong move to the hoop, hit the shot and was fouled in the process.
That lightning quick turn of events turned a 55-54 Warriors’ lead into a 57-55 Lakeland advantage.
“Game’s probably over (had Wolfe not made that play),” said Lemmens. “But that’s not the only play. It’s a big play and people are going to remember it. It’s just things to learn from.”
“Mason’s steal, that was a huge play,” said Lakeland coach Rich Fortier. “We we said to Mason in the timeout, make a play. Mason made a play for us there.”
Up to that point, it was West’s Mitchell Zahurones who was making all the plays.
Zahurones scored a game-high 33 points and was involved in nearly every single offensive highlight for the Warriors.
He also frustrated the Thunderbirds with tough defense and steals.
In a word, Zahurones turned in a magnificent performance.
“I don’t know how to say the kid’s name,” said Fortier. “That kid’s good. He’s just a junior, is that right? We’re going to have to have a different plan next year. That kid’s a baller.”
The Thunderbirds were able to counter Zahurones with the tandem of Jonathan Jurries and Michael Ouimette.
Jurries scored 21 points, including five three pointers, while Ouimette led the team with 24 points.
The Warriors won’t have a lot of time to dwell on this loss as they turn around and face Medford on Saturday.
“Back to the drawing board,” said Lemmens. “Short turn around and we’re going to get tested again Saturday on a team that’s going to get after us.”
Lakeland Scoring: Jurries 21, Quade 5, Wolfe 5, Ouimette 24, Rentmeester 2
West Scoring: Zahurones 33, Rapp 6, Hartman 13, Raasch 3, McColley 3