Colby downed by conference champions
The Colby Hornets boys basketball team dropped back to back games, falling in Cloverbelt action to Neillsville on Thursday, and then to Rib Lake in a nonconference match at home on Tuesday.
In each contest the Hornets were taking on conference championship teams, as both Neillsville and Rib Lake wrapped up the Eastern Cloverbelt and Marawood - North crowns this season.
To quote the late, great baseball player and coach/manager Yogi Berra, it was deja vu all over again last week Thursday, as the Colby Hornets fell to the Warriors for the second time this season, dropping an Eastern Cloverbelt game 75-40.
It was an almost identical score from their first meeting, a 76-39 loss in Colby back on Jan. 7. With the loss Colby is now to 7-7 in conference play, while the Warriors conference record remains a perfect 13-0 in the Eastern Cloverbelt.
The Hornets still have a chance to finish with a winning record in league play with conference clashes with Spencer and Granton still on the schedule.
Just as in their first meeting, the Warriors’ Alex King and Andrew Brown set the tone early. Much like their first meeting with Colby, both players finished in double digits with 17 and 12 points.
But it was another player that caused the Hornets fits in Neillsville last week, with Monte Diestler propelling the Warriors to a 45-17 advantage at the break.
Diestler was one fire from deep, converting six of nine three point attempts, and eight of 14 attempts to finish with a game high 22 points.
Colby didn’t allow the Warriors to make many trips to the charity stripe, not that the Warriors needed it as they shot better than 50 percent from the floor, splashing 30 of 59 field goal attempts The Hornets’ defense was better in the second half, limiting the Warriors’ offense for long stretchers of time, but the Warriors returned the favor, holding Colby’s scoring in check.
The Hornets finished just 14 of 48 for the night, but did shoot 40 percent from three, connecting on six of 15 attempts from Down Town.
Colby would be outpaced 30-23 by the Warriors’ three-headed scoring machine in the second frame, and just one Hornet, Brent Jeske, was in double figures with 10 points.
Noah Robida dropped nine points on Neillsville, followed by Isaac Karl with six points. Richard Streveler and Harley Schmelzer finished with five apiece. Roman Schmitt and Gavino Lopez rounded things out, finishing with three and two points.
Rib Lake, 59-51
Another game and another conference champion was facing off against Colby at home on Tuesday night.
This time it was the Rib Lake Redmen, who will finish as the 2019-20 conquerors of the Marawood - North conference.
It didn’t help Colby that Rib Lake came into the non-conference clash with a chip on their shoulder, and something to prove, after dropping a hotly contested game with the Stratford Tigers in Rib Lake the week before.
Rib Lake had given the Tigers everything they could handle, but Stratford, the number two ranked team in D-4 this season, pulled away in the end.
The Hornets very nearly pulled off the upset over Rib Lake, themselves a state ranked team, sitting pretty at sixth in D-5.
The Hornets gave the Redmen everything they could handle in the first half, briefly flirting with the lead, going up 14-13 off a Brent Jeske drive to the basket with 8:00 to play in the first half.
That lead was quickly snuffed out by some three point shooting from Rib Lake, and the interior presence of Nick Gerstberger, who scored 11 of his game high 18 points in the first frame, and mostly in the paint.
Jeske and Richard Streveler kept the Hornets in the hunt, and Colby was only down 31-25 at the break. The second half was a different story.
The Redmen made excellent use of their height in the last period, getting multiple offensive rebounds for multiple second chance points.
The Hornets hung tough through most of the second half, but several threes and points down low saw Colby trail 47-38 with 6:44 remaining.
From there Noah Robida heated up, scoring from three. Baskets by Roman Schmitt and Jeske gave Colby a 7-2 run, and the Hornets closed the gap to within four at 49-45 with five to play.
But after that, the Redmen regained control, took air out of the ball, and forced Colby to foul, and Rib Lake left Colby with a 59-51 victory.
Robida led Colby with 12 points, including three triples. Jeske scored 10 points and Streveler recorded eight.
Roman Schmitt and Gavino Lopez each scored six points. Isaac Karl chipped in with two points.
The Hornets fall to 8-10 on the year, but will have a chance to get back to winning ways with a return to action on Friday. Colby will take on the Spencer Rockets in a conference clash. Tipoff will be at 7:15 p.m.