Bears look ahead to playoffs after final season loss

No. 7 Bonduel hosts No. 10 Eagles in 1st round
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Leader photo by Jacy Zollar Wittenberg-Birnamwood senior Trevor Groshek drives past Bonduel’s Jared Wondra during the second half of the Chargers’ 60-34 victory on Thursday.

Bonduel came out strong with an all-senior starting five during Thursday’s senior night, but couldn’t bounce back after losing its early lead in a 60-34 loss against Wittenberg-Birnamwood.

“I’m disappointed for the seniors a little bit,” Bonduel head coach Duke Copp said. “I feel kind of bad that we couldn’t go out with a win on senior night. We shot ok, but we didn’t defend well. They got really hot and we just weren’t getting out like we were supposed to.”

The Bears took the lead at the start of the Central Wisconsin Conference-East contest with the help of three consecutive 3-pointers by Bryce Weier. Witt-Birn answered with three shots from beyond the arc and took a 13-11 lead on the final one by Trevor Groshek with just under 12 minutes in the first half.

The Chargers took off and ended the half up 41-19. The Bears held Witt-Birn to 19 second-half points, but missed open looks and scored just 15 points to seal the regular season finale loss.

“I think we executed against their zone the best we have all year,” Witt-Birn head coach Lon Ebel said. “I thought we were able to get the ball inside, get in the middle and find the open guy. They shared the ball well.”

The Chargers (13-9, 7-5 CWC) were paced offensively by senior Trevor Groshek, who helped the team pull away in the first half with five 3-pointers and 17 total points.

Bryce Weier scored 17 points for the Bears, including three threes.

The loss comes one game after Copp said the team played its best ball in a 77-53 victory over Menominee Indian.

“At Menominee, our defense created offense for us,” Copp said. “Tonight that didn’t happen, and when you start giving some shots up, like we did here, you start to lose confidence and then the next shots are just a little rattled.”

The Bears (8-14, 4-8 CWC) host Menominee Indian again in the first round of the WIAA Division 4 tournament on Tuesday. No. 7-seeded Bonduel has a 2-0 sweep on the No. 10 Eagles (9-13, 1-11 CWC) this season.

“I think Menominee’s a good and kind of underrated team,” Copp said, “and it’s really hard to beat a team three times in a year. I told the kids that, and we just need to come to practice and play hard. We need to bring more intensity to practice. It’s the end of the year, but this is the time to work the hardest.”

Despite the loss, the seniors still made the most of their final regular season game together.

“The atmosphere was amazing,” senior Dalton Cairns said. “Yea, we lost, but playing with these guys and with the seniors for our last game was amazing. I’ve played with some of these guys, like Wyatt (Erb), since fourth grade and it’s always so fun to play with him, so it was special to be out there for our last season game. Our seniors came together and made some memories and that’s what it’s really about.”

For Cairns, the key to topping Menominee Indian on Tuesday is containing Warren Wilber III, who is tied as the leading scorer in the conference with an average 17 points per game.

“We can’t relax, we just need to come out with all we have,” Cairns said. “They have Wilber, who’s a great shooter, so we have to stop him and I think we’ll be good if we do that. We’re confident going forward, we just need to keep going hard at practice leading up to it.”

Wittenberg-Birnamwood (60)

Ethan Wesolowski 0-2 2; Matt Kapitz 0-0 8; Cory Fraaza 2-3 16; Kody Szews 4-5 10; Matt Thrun 1-2 3; Trevor Groshek 0-0 17; Brendan Resch 0-0 2; Ian Zeinert 0-0 2.

Bonduel (34)

Bryce Weier 0-0 17; Riley Allen 0-0 2; Austin Acker 0-0 3; Isaac Boldt 0-0 2; Parker Bohm 0-1 6; Dalton Cairns 2-4 4.

Wittenberg-Birnamwood 41 19 — 60

Bonduel 19 15 — 34