Rangers shade Niagara on Betts’ buzzer-beater
Weber leads Badgers with season-high 23 points
NIAGARA, Wis. — Wausaukee senior Peyton Betts hit a jump shot just past the free-throw line as the buzzer sounded and the Rangers players and fans on the visiting side of the gym celebrated. The game-winning basket gave Wausaukee a 57-56 win over Niagara here Tuesday night in Marinette-Oconto Conference boys basketball.
In the waning moments, Badgers sophomore Nicholas Krueger hit a 15-foot jumper to put Niagara ahead 56-55 with 9.3 seconds remaining. Rangers head coach Jon Betts called a timeout and drew up a play, as his team had to inbound the ball under Niagara’s basket and take it the length of the floor to get their shot attempt.
“The way our last possession ended up, was definitely not the way I drew it up in our final timeout,” coach Betts said with a laugh. “My son saved his Dad tonight and we got out of here with a win.”
“Our defense on their final possession was as good as I could’ve hope for,” said Niagara head coach Steve Derwinski. “Dawson (Lincoln) played exceptional defense on Betts; he drained a fade away shot with a hand in his face, hats off to him.”
Wausaukee senior center Brenden Versaskas led all scorers with 26 points, delivering a dominant performance near the basket. Logan Weber led the Badgers with a season-high 23 points, with fellow sophomore Edward Swanson chipping in 12 points in the loss.
Each team’s performance mirrored the other, with each taking a lead of nearly 10 points, and the other fighting their way back.
“Our patience on offense seems to be a problem often, which can somewhat be expected with a young team,” said Derwinski. “But tonight, when we did take our time in our half-court offense, we did fine.”
Weber was playing strong and confident in the paint, and his teammates fed off of that, working the ball into him.
The game got started with Wausaukee jumping out to an 8-2 lead. Approximately 10 game minutes later, the score was tied at 20-20, with the Badgers taking the lead 30 seconds later.
At that point, the Rangers began to push the tempo on the offensive side, taking a two-point advantage into the break.
As the second half got started, it was the home team that got out to a lead. Three minutes into the half, Niagara led 37-29, a lead they held for several minutes.
With 6:30 left in the game, Wausaukee narrowed the Badgers’ lead down to 44-42 and Derwinski called a timeout. The rest of the half was exciting and competitive.
“With the young team, myself and the other coaches spend a few moments in timeouts reassuring the boys they can pull off the assignments I give them coming out of those timeouts,” Derwinski said. “Tonight the boys listened and played hard, which is all I ask of them.”
“We haven’t had any games this close all season,” coach Betts said. “We didn’t defend the pick and roll well at all tonight, we’re going to work at that. But we fought back and so did they, it was a fun game.”
Niagara, who slips to 3-5 on the season, travels to Marinette on Thursday, to take on M&O opponent St. Thomas Aquinas. On Friday, the Badgers host non-conference rival Florence.
Wausaukee also won the JV game.
Wausaukee 27 30 — 57
Niagara 25 31 — 56
WAUSAUKEE: Brunette 4, Betts 6, Suennen 9, Schroeder 3, Boesen 7. Rowley 2, Versaskas 26; FT: 9-16; F: 17; Fouled Out: None; 3-point FG: Suennen 3, Schroeder.
NIAGARA: E. Swanson 12, Lincoln 7, T. Colenso 6. Krueger 4, A. Colenso 2, Weber 23; FT: 7-17; F: 13; Fouled Out: A. Colenso; 3-point FG: Lincoln, E. Swanson.