/ Articles / Mercer basketball hosts Washington Island
In a unique opportunity, the Mercer basketball teams hosted Washington Island in a fun, full-day event with many games.
Washington Island is in Door County, and in order to get to the mainland, the Washington Island basketball teams had to take a ferry and then drive to Mercer.
“It was real fun because they came over on a ferry,” Mercer boys’ coach and athletic director Adam Miller said. “But I thought the best thing about the day was our fans and our players that we had were cheering for them — cheering for us and cheering for them and everybody getting along.”
The Mercer girls played an official varsity game, defeating Washington Island 42-32.
“Washington Island was looking for games,” Mercer girls’ coach Vic Saeger said. “It was a nice opportunity to play a fun game.”
Zoe Botes showed why she is one of the best players in the Indianhead conference. She scored four quick points, one on an assist from Molly Hohner.
Washington Island’s Paige Gunnlaugsson proved to be a threat from the outside. She responded with a 3-pointer.
The Tigers led 4-3 and Washington Island took a timeout.
From there, the Tigers scored from a variety of different sources. Hohner scored a basket on a bounce pass from Botes. Aubrey Schoeneman got in the post and scored two points as well.
The Tigers led 11-4.
KD Knipp used her quickness for another steal and scored on the fast break. Then, Ella Torkelson scored her first basket on a drive to the lane.
“It was so cool,” Hohner said. “Playing a different team that we’ve never heard of is a really great experience.”
Gunnlaugsson made another 3-pointer, her second of the half, to give Washington Island a few more points. The assist went to Breanna McGrane.
Knipp answered with a 3-pointer of her own, before scoring two more points off of a steal.
The Tigers led 25-7 at the half.
During the second half, all of the Tigers got a chance to play, with several of them scoring.
Hana Joustra scored on a 3-pointer, followed by April Klopatek scoring two points.
“It was nice for all of our players to get to play considerable amount of time in a varsity game,” Saeger said.
Then some of the starters got back into it. Botes scored a bucket and Torkelson knocked down a 3-pointer.
Washington Island also hit a number of 3-point shots in the second half. Julia Valentincic made her first basket for three points. Then Gunnlaugsson made two more 3-pointers, giving her four for the game thus far.
The Tigers led 35-16 with 8:46 left to go.
Knipp dropped in three more points on a bucket. Hohner made two free throws and Jessica Klopatek scored her first points of the game.
The Tigers had a comfortable lead late in the game. But towards the end, Gunnlaugsson got the hot hand.
Gunnlaugsson scored the game’s final 10 points. First, she drove to the basket for two points. Then on the very next possession she hit a 3-pointer. Not too long after, she went back to the paint for another bucket.
With time expiring, Washington Island had one more chance at a score. They found the hot hand of Gunnlaugsson, who hit one more 3-pointer at the buzzer. She finished with 22 points and six 3-pointers.
Washington Island outscored the Tigers 25-17 in the second half.
“It’s nice they could keep it close and let (Washington Island) score some baskets and let their girls play,” Saeger said. “It was a good game.”
The Tigers were led by Botes with 11, Knipp with 10 and Torkelson with eight.
The Mercer boys played a junior varsity game against Washington Island. The Tigers won 53-40.
“Well, we got to see what we’re going to look like without Kobe (Hiller) which was a struggle in the beginning for sure,” Miller said.
The Tigers scored 35 second half points. Davin Peterson went for a stretch scoring six straight points for the Tigers. Joe Laudolff knocked down a 3-pointer amongst his seven second half points. Both Ryan and Devin Losh scored in the paint and grabbed rebounds.
Max Johnson and Ryan Jorgenson led Washington Island. Johnson made at least four 3-pointers and Jorgenson pushed the pace on the fast break in addition to making shots.
Once the girls and boys had played a game against one another, two scrimmages took place.
First, both of the girls’ teams mixed teams and scrimmaged against one another with a shortened clock. The Mercer seniors went to play with Washington Island, making for a fun game. Jessica Klopatek was one who played with Washington Island.
“It was actually really awesome,” she said. “Working with a new team, developing those teamwork skills and really just meeting new people.”
Knipp stayed with Mercer and enjoyed playing against her teammates.
“It was a lot of fun,” she said. “It was fun picking on the other teammates and intentionally fouling them, but it was a good experience for (Washington Island) to come down and play.”
The boys scrimmaged as well, but did not mix teams. All Tigers got to play in that game.
“Everett (Valliere) had six points and the game winner,” Miller said. “They haven’t won a lot either and it was exciting to have such close games.”
This whole day was part of a fun trip for Washington Island. After the games, both teams ate a meal together at the school before Washington Island departed for home. They were originally going to stay the night in town, but plans changed.
“They did not because of bad weather. They were going to stay here in the motel here,” Miller said. “They came on Saturday and we had a meal here afterwards. They (then) drove to Sturgeon Bay, stayed at a hotel and got the 9:30 a.m. ferry the next day.”
Trip to the Island
Next year, the Mercer basketball teams plan to travel to Washington Island themselves and stay overnight. The date of the game is to be determined.
“I think it’s really cool, something for us to do,” Miller said. “What I want to do is what they wanted to do — stay there, explore the island for at least a couple hours — four, five hours — and then catch the ferry back.”
The girls lost to Drummond 54-42 on Monday, Feb. 10.
Then the girls traveled to Hurley on Thursday, Feb. 13. For complete coverage of those games, check out the Feb. 18 edition of The Times.
The boys lost to Butternut 50-46 on Tuesday, Feb. 11. Coverage of that game will be in the Feb. 18 edition of The Times.
Then the boys host Drummond tonight in Mercer starting at 7 p.m.
Brett LaBore may be reached at [email protected] or [email protected].