Gresham opens Sundrop Shootout with win

4 Wildcats shoot double digits

Leader photo by Jacy Zollar Gresham Community School senior Todd Otradovec drives past Green Bay NEW Lutheran’s Luke Bukowski during a 53-50 win at the Sun Drop Shootout on Wednesday. Otradovec scored 11 points for the Wildcats.

Gresham had four shooters score double digits as it defeated Green Bay NEW Lutheran 53-50 at the Sundrop Shootout on Wednesday.

The Wildcats opened the three-day, ninth annual tournament at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Kress Events Center.

In Gresham’s second year participating in the shootout, head coach Jeff Zobeck said it gives the players experience in the case of a championship run.

“It’s an awesome experience,” he said. “Last year we decided to do it because we felt like we had a team that could advance and have to play in a facility like this, so we wanted to give them that opportunity. This year, we’re playing really well right now, so it’s kind of the same scenario.

“It’s a fun event for the kids and the families that come to support, and again this year, it’s good that we can play in an environment like this in case we end up having to again down the road this season.”

The Wildcats and Blazers battled in a close first half, with neither team trailing by more than four points. A layup by Todd Otradovec gave Gresham a four-point lead with four minutes remaining in the half, but a NEW Lutheran steal and layup and subsequent jumper gave the Blazers a 25-24 lead at halftime.

The Wildcats secured the lead for the remainder of the game after a layup by Justice Paiser to open the second half. A Paiser 3-pointer with 3:30 left gave Gresham its biggest lead, 48-37, but NEW Lutheran slowly leveled the score and a jumper by Luke Bukowski made it a two-point game with nine seconds remaining.

Drew Haffner drew an offensive foul against the Blazers and hit one of two free throws to give Gresham a three-point edge with four seconds left. NEW Lutheran called a timeout with one second remaining but couldn’t produce from it, and a failed heave gave Gresham the victory.

“That situation was a huge learning experience for our young guys,” Zobeck said. “They haven’t been in an experience where we’ve needed to be solid in that kind of scenario. There were things we could have done better in those last seconds, and they’ll learn from that. But overall, we were able to do what we needed to and held out for the win.”

Zobeck thought his team responded well after changing their defensive strategy on NEW Lutheran’s biggest threat, Samuel Meerstein, who chipped in a game-high 21 points.

“I thought we did a great job of adjusting,” Zobeck said. “We had to adjust defensively on Meerstein since he was a big shooter. Then (NEW Lutheran) adjusted at halftime so we had to readjust again. So I think our biggest positive today was that we adjusted well and the guys found a way to stay on (NEW Lutheran’s) change-ups.

“Especially with the freshmen we had on the floor, I think it’s huge that they were able to make those adjustments. It’s a huge learning experience for them.”

Along with making adjustments, freshman Jake Hoffman led the Wildcats with 13 points. Paiser added 12, Otradovec 11 and Haffner 10 to round out Gresham’s double-digit scorers.

“It’s cool being on a college court,” Paiser said. “It makes you feel like you made it. You get butterflies and especially in a close game like this, being on a court like this just upped the intensity.”

Gresham (53)

Drew Haffner 1-2 10; Waylon Welch 0-0 2; Raven Bennett 1-2 5; Justice Paiser 3-4 12; Jake Hoffman 4-7 13; Todd Otradovec 2-4 11.

NEW Lutheran (50)

Jacob Champeau 1-2 7; Bennett Reisler 1-4 5; Luke Bukowski 0-0 5; Samuel Meerstein 2-2 21; Chip Kindt 0-2 8; Raini Bullock 0-0 2; Adam Gosse 0-0 2.

Gresham 24 29 — 53

NEW Lutheran 25 25 — 50