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Marines Hold Off Foxes In O.T. Conference Match

With a 2-8 record, Fox Valley Lutheran seemed like a game the Marinette Marines could look at as a win.  However, what the record doesn't say is that one of those wins is over the Marines from earlier this season, and FVL has played plenty of good competition.  Tuesday night as Marinette hosted FVL, a battle was on at the P.F. Neverman gym. 

All game the teams went back and forth, fighting for the advantage.  In the early going, it was senior forward Noah Miller providing the spark the Marines needed.  Miller drained a triple giving Marinette a 12-10 lead, but back-to-back three-pointers from the Foxes quickly nullified that.  No matter, Miller posted up and scored an easy two before connecting again from behind the arc.  Walker Stroming sank two free throws before Miller struck again from three-point land, taking a 22-16 lead. 

The Marines opened the largest lead of the game for either team when Matt Wagner dialed up a three-ball for a 33-24 lead.  FVL fought back as Colten Schild drilled a triple and cashed in on a steal with a layup.  Schild battled for a rebound and a put back that brought the Foxes back within two with a minute left in the half.  Jake Poetzl gave the Marines a little breathing room with a triple with 38 seconds on the clock, but as the buzzer sounded, FVL's Scott Price sank a long jumper to trim the halftime margin to 42-40.

Jordan Wendt scored inside and Wagner secured a rebound and put back for the Marines to begin the second half as they opened their largest lead in the half at 46-40.  The Foxes answered with a 15-4 run, finished off by a Schild three, grabbing their largest lead of the half at 55-50.  Back-and-forth the teams battled, neither one leading by more than five points.

With 2:50 on the clock, Miller got behind the defense for an easy layup for a 77-74 Marinette lead.  The Foxes responded with a free throw from Schild and a big three-pointer from Jared Kraftzenk gave them a 78-77 lead with 1:20.  A layup from Wagner took the lead back with 51 seconds remaining, 79-78.  Kraftzenk was fouled on the other end with an opportunity to give FVL the lead again, but split in his trip to the charity stripe and tied the game at 79-79.  The Marines missed a shot at the buzzer and the game went to overtime.

"FVL for some reason seems to have guys step up and make big shots against us every time.  I know we can put up the points, I would be a little bit happier if we could hold teams a little better.  I thought we had a chance with about four minutes left to put our stamp on the game, but we had some breakdowns and gave FVL some confidence," said Coach Semenas.

In overtime, Wagner's quick three gave the Marines a lead but Schild's rebuttal from behind the arc tied the game again.  The Foxes took an 86-84 lead when Kraftzenk drained a deep triple, but not for long as Poetzl answered with a triple of his own just 13 seconds later.  FVL's Jesse Doyen scored on a layup to go up 88-87 with just one minute left. 

On a team filled with younger talent, it was a senior to step up in the clutch.  Connor Nelson went to the free throw line with 28.6 on the clock and tied the game at 88-88.  Just a second later, Doyen was fouled and missed the first one, before sinking the second shot to take the lead back for FVL.  Again, Nelson came up big for the Marines as he drove past his defender and made the go-ahead layup with 19.2 seconds remaining, 90-89.  FVL took the ball, but it was Schild that committed the costly travel with 4.8 seconds remaining.  Marinette inbounded to Nelson, who was immediately fouled.  Nelson connected on one of two from the line, the Foxes missed a half-court shot, and the Marines held on for a 91-89 win in overtime.

"Just take it hard to the hoop, get fouled, or make the shot.  I had to make the shot to win. Nothing beats it.  For the last couple of years to get some wins and ice a couple of games has been really fun," said Nelson after helping his team to victory.

When asked about his senior leadership on a team full of youth, Coach Semenas said, "That's a senior stepping up.  Nelson stepped up at the end, we had huge contribution from Noah Miller at the beginning.  Seniors step up in big moments."

Wagner paced the Marines with 30 points, Poetzl battled his way to 24, Miller finished with 18, and Wendt added nine.  For the Foxes, Kraftzenk led the way with 23 points, Schild added 19 and Zayne Rodencal pitched in with 14.

"It's just a matter of focus, we have chances in every game. We have to put our stamp on every game at the defensive end and if we don't we will have too many games like this.  Luckily, tonight we were able to pull out the win. I'm proud of our guys because they made the plays we needed them to make and we got the win.  Now, it's just about understanding we need those plays every time," Coach Semenas said after the hard-fought victory.


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