WILLIAMS BAY — Williams Bay’s boys basketball team earned a No. 6 seed in the first round of the postseason, and with that, a home game Feb. 26 against 11-seed Cambridge. The visiting team was able to win the game 62-53, but Bay head coach Troy Nottestad wouldn’t call it an upset.
“We were pretty evenly matched as far as teams go,” Nottestad said. “They don’t have a great record, but they play in a bigger conference and better competition than our conference.”
The Bulldogs kicked the game off with a bang, quickly jumping out to a 5-0 lead. Shortly after, though, Cambridge was able to tie the game at 9-9 with just over 13 minutes until halftime.
For the next seven minutes, the game was neck-and-neck. Neither team built up a lead of more than four, and the two squads jumped back and forth between ties and swapping leads. With six minutes until the end of the half, the visiting Bluejays led 19-18.
Cambridge quickly established a lead from there, going on a 9-0 run during the next four minutes to take a 28-18 lead with just over a minute left until the break. Williams Bay cut into that deficit a bit, and at halftime, it was 28-21.
Much like the first half, the Bulldogs started off hot in the second half, going on an 8-4 run in the first five minutes to bring themselves within one basket at 32-29. Two minutes later, it was still a close game, with Cambridge ahead 36-31.
In the next three minutes, the Bluejays re-established their double-digit lead with a 13-3 run that extended the score to 49-34 with 8:15 on the clock.
That 15-point advantage held for most of the remainder of the game, but a surge in the last couple minutes by the Bay brought the deficit back to single digits for the 62-53 final score.
After fast starts in both halves, the Bulldogs slowed down in the later parts of both, which Nottestad attributed to the physicality of Cambridge providing a challenge.
“I think they wore us down. First time in a while that I thought we got worn down instead of vice versa. They just banged us, didn’t let anything come easy,” Nottestad said.
After a tough first half, Bay sophomore Ben Venteicher scored 17 in the second half to lead all scorers with 21 points in the game. Next up for the Bulldogs was fellow sophomore Jaden Randall, who scored 13. Junior Eli Edington also hit double figures with 10 points.
While it was an earlier end to the season than the Bulldog players and coaches hoped for, with only one senior graduating, the vast majority of the team will be back next year. Nottestad hopes that this year’s painful postseason loss could help the team avoid the same fate next season.
“The more you’re in this situation — do-or-die — the better you’re going to get at it,” Nottestad said. “We’re definitely looking forward to the future.”