Tigerton boys basketball team eases past Gresham

Tigers start fast, cruise to conference win
Morgan Rode
Sports Editor

The Tigerton High School boys basketball team rolled to a 72-9 victory over Gresham in a Central Wisconsin Conference-North Division clash on Dec. 19 in Gresham.

Tigerton scored the game’s first 16 points and never looked back after that. The Tigers had nine different players score in the contest and used a balanced attack to run away with the game.

Early on in the game, Tigerton attacked the basket. Ryder Graham led that charge, scoring 10 of the first 16 points.

“A lot of movement,” said Graham on what led to the strong offensive night for the team. “We’ve realized in the past few years, sitting around on the outside of the 3-point line doesn’t do anything. So we kind of put it together — screens, run around the court, get open — you’re not going to score if you sit still, pretty much.”

Graham continued to power Tigerton, tallying 16 of the opening 31 points before sitting the final three-plus minutes of the half. At that point, Tigerton was ahead 31-3.

With Graham on the bench, Maverick Maas took over, knocking down five of his six first-half 3-pointers in the final 2:45 of the half.

After Maas hit the first couple triples, his teammates and the visiting crowd took notice. By the time Maas hit the final 3-pointer — right before the halftime buzzer — he sent the team and fans into a frenzy.

“When our big guys moved out, we had a lot of smaller guys in,” said Maas. “That really set the tone for our 3-pointers…”

The sophomore added that he hadn’t hit that many shots in a game this season and that it, “felt really, really good. It gave me a lot of confidence to keep letting it fly.”

After deploying a full-court press that rattled a young and inexperienced Gresham team, Tigerton backed off in the second half, but still continued to stifle the hosts.

The team’s starters played the first seven-plus minutes of the half, at which point Tigerton led 60-7, before turning to its bench players for the remainder of the contest.

“Our defense pushed them to the point where they just started throwing up random passes, and they weren’t sure what they were doing with it,” said Graham, who finished with 22 points, 11 rebounds and three assists. “It opened up opportunities for fastbreak layups, it opened up opportunities for postups and simple 3-point shots.”

Maas added that it was all effort that led to the defensive showing, highlighting boxing out, hustling and continuing to play hard all game.

Maas finished the contest with 18 points, while Loghan Wanta had eight points and six rebounds. Ethan Carlson grabbed five boards for the Tigers.

Colby Wanta set things up for the Tigerton offense and finished the night with nine assists and six steals.

Gresham had just two players score in the contest, Bryson Nelson and Blade Hoffman.

Nelson hit a couple field goals and also got to the free-throw line several times on his way to a seven-point showing. Hoffman had the Wildcats’ third and final field goal in the game.

Hoffman, a senior, said that being a team that plays sophomores and freshmen, the full-court press put on by Tigerton isn’t something those guys have faced many times yet.

The senior complimented Tigerton, saying it, “has one of the best rotations I’ve seen on defense from the press to (half-court) defense. They do it seamlessly. Everyone knows where to go, so it works out perfect for them.”

Being a leader on a young team that’s struggled a bit to this point of the season, Hoffman is focused on keeping things positive.

“I really just try and teach them and mentor them as much as I possibly can,” said Hoffman.

Tigerton 46 26 — 72

Gresham 3 6 — 9

Tigerton (72): Maverick Maas 0-0 18, Seneca Cooper 0-0 4, Colby Wanta 0-1 3, Loghan Wanta 0-0 8, Ethan Carlson 0-0 4, Sam Anheuser 0-0 4, Joey Zimdars 0-0 4, Ryder Graham 0-0 22, Asher Michaelis 1-2 5.

Gresham (9): Bryson Nelson 3-5 7, Blade Hoffman 0-2 2.