Schultz’ 24 points not enough as Appleton East takes down Pulaski

Dustin Riese

It’s never easy to go on the road and win in high school basketball, and the Pulaski Red Raiders (10-9) found that out the hard way Feb. 3.

Facing off against Appleton East (4-13) in a non-conference tilt, it was a story of two players going head to head in an epic player vs. player matchup.

It was the Joey LaChapell vs. Colin Schultz as both of these players put their teams on their back, especially during the second half. Schultz paced the way for the Red Raiders with 24 points, but that wasn’t enough to take the spotlight from LaChapell, who was honored pregame for becoming the Patriots’ all-time leading scorer. He responded by dropping 36 points for the Patriots, including 17 straight at one point to lift the Patriots to the 79-70 victory.

“That team isn’t as bad as their record shows,” head coach John Polkowski said. “Appleton East has been in every game they’ve played, so their record doesn’t accurately portray how good they are. We knew it would be a battle as they play a rigorous schedule with the FVA (Fox Valley Association).”

Judging by how the start of things went, you would’ve never guessed that nearly 150 points would be scored as neither team was able to find the bucket in the first three minutes. That was until Ethan Schmidt got inside for the layup to open up the scoring 2-0. It was at that moment when both offenses got rolling with LaChapell putting East on the board with a triple before back-to-back buckets by Joseph Mijal gave the Red Raiders an early 6-3 lead.

The back-and-forth affair continued from there, but with East holding a 10-8 lead, it was Nathan Jossie coming through with a put back to make things even once again. That was when the Patriots’ offense started to get rolling as a quick triple from Cade Prestigiacomo gave the Patriots the lead before another LaChapell bucket put East in front 17-12.

Ethan and Bohdan Schmidt managed to keep things close at 21-18, but it was LaChapell coming through with another triple to push the lead to 24-18.

LaChapell was just getting started as he combined with Prestigiacomo to push the lead to 28-21 with Jacob Weisbach stretching things out to 34-26 late in the first half. Fortunately for the Red Raiders, they managed to chip away at things late as the corner triple from Bryce Wotruba pulled Pulaski within five while Jossie and Schultz closed out the first half to make things 36-32.

Expecting more of the same in the second half, both teams exchanged buckets to open things up before the LaChapell show got going as his four points pushed the Patriots lead to 43-34. Polkowski knew LaChapell was going to be a tall task for his team, but even he couldn’t believe how dialed in the senior was from start to finish.

“LaChappel is a unique player,” he said. “He knows he’ll draw the best defender every night, and the fact that he can play through that every night is a credit to him and his ability. He was dialed in tonight.”

Hoping to put a stop to the Patriots’ run, Mijal picked up a bucket on the inside, but it was short lived with Grayson Kasmarek knocking down consecutive triples to stretch the Patriots lead to 49-37 and had Pulaski in danger of getting blown out.

Fortunately for them, it was time for Schultz to take over as he not only scored seven of his team’s next nine points to pull the Red Raiders to within 49-47, but he went toe-to-toe with LaChapell for a good portion of the second half. Once Schultz got rolling, it opened things up for the rest of the Pulaski offense as Dylan Dorn tied things up before Dixon Holewinski gave the Red Raiders a 52-51 lead.

That was when LaChapell began to take over as he went on to score 17 straight points for the Patriots helping them not only stay close, but giving them the lead on several occasions.

The same can be said for Schultz throughout the second half as he was able to match LaChapell with several buckets of his own as the Red Raiders were within 65-64 in the final few minutes.

“Colin along with his teammates continue to grow within our offense,” Polkowski said. “When our individual talents work together, we’ll always be at our best. We were at our best for a large portion of the game today, but we couldn’t find a way to finish things off.”

Needing a stop on the defensive end, it appeared the Red Raiders came up with that stop only to foul LaChapell on a 3-point attempt, aiding in three made free throws. That ended his streak of 17 straight points as the Patriots led 68-64. A few minutes later, it was Kasmarek’s turn to find the bottom of the net as he connected on a back-breaking triple to put the Patriots in front 71-64.

Schultz responded with four quick points to pull the Red Raiders within three, but it came down to the free throw line to determine the game. Leading 73-70 in the final minutes, it was the Patriots putting the game on ice as they connected on all six of their free throw attempts in the final minute to pull away for the victory.