Boys basketball: Cardinals play with chip on shoulder in 99-81 win over Durand
Don't sleep on the Prescott boys basketball team, Wisconsin.
The Cardinals may be down a 7'0" center this year, but a shorter average height won't be able to stop their team.
And after their season opener, it's hard to imagine that anything will be able to slow down this Cardinals squad.
Prescott opened their season on Saturday, Dec. 2 by hosting the now 2-1 Durand Panthers. The Cardinals made a statement in their first game of the season by beating the Panthers 99-81, and let their opponents know that they're not to be overlooked this year.
"I think we're going to play with a chip on our shoulder all year," Prescott head coach Nick Johnson said.
Prior to the start of the season, word spread that the Cardinals were going to have a down year because of the loss of Owen Hamilton.
"I think our kids kind of took that to heart, and it motivated them in the offseason," Johnson said. "Scoring 99 points in our first game against a very good Durand team was pretty impressive."
Thirty-eight of the Cardinals' points came from senior point guard Peter Brookshaw, who was recently named to Wisconsin Sports Network's preseason Point Guard Watch List.
On Saturday, the 6'0" point guard defended his and his team's name and set the tone for what the Cardinals have planned for their 2017-18 season. Aside from his career-high 38 points, Brookshaw also added nine assists, five steals and three rebounds to his stellar season-opener performance.
"We feel he's one of the best point guards in the state of Wisconsin, and I think he showed a little bit of that yesterday," Johnson said. "It's tough to slow him down, and he's playing at a level that I've only seen a couple times in my coaching and playing careers."
The Cardinals got off to a quick start in their home opener by going on an 8-0 run, and proved that they were itching to get their season started. The Panthers called their first timeout less than two minutes into the game after being held scoreless by the Cardinals who converted their turnovers into easy, transition layups on the other end of the court.
Out of the timeout, Brookshaw scored his first jumper of the night, and found Dylan Rieken who finished at the rim for two and one at the free-throw line. Rieken was Prescott's fourth leading scorer with 10 points. He also contributed four rebounds to Prescott's win.
Durand managed to go on a 5-0 run of their own, but from there, Brookshaw took over.
Brookshaw drove into the lane, faked and went up with a layup himself in Prescott's next possession after breaking Durand's press, which was no match for the Cardinals' superior guards.
Joe Roosen also attacked Durand's full-court pressure, and pulled the Panthers' helpside defense toward him, which opened up things down low for the Cardinals. Roosen recorded his first assist of the night after teammate Derek Rundquist connected in the paint.
Johnson said he could see that Roosen is a lot more confident taking the ball to the basket after just one game.
"He's so poised; he's so confident," Johnson said. "He's a knock-down shooter and a shutdown defender. That's the thing about Joe, he's a weapon defensively."
Roosen finished with 17 points, five assists, one steal and one block on Saturday.
Rundquist's bucket from Roosen brought the Cardinals' lead to 10 with 10:30 to go in the first half before Prescott and Durand fans were entertained with back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back three-pointers from their point guards.
Durand's Brittan Sabelko hit the first of the five consecutive three's, and Brookshaw matched it by pulling up from deep at the top of the key. The two multi-talented point guards shared three-pointers once more, and Sabelko got the final shot from behind the arc to bring the Cardinals' lead to just seven.
But Brookshaw wasn't done.
The Prescott point guard recorded 24 first-half points, and led his team to a 48-36 advantage at the midway break.
Roosen and Brookshaw scored 10 of the Cardinals' first 13 points to start the second half, and the other three points came from Westy Bartsch who was fouled on a bunny and completed an old-fashioned three-pointer by swishing his free throw.
"He does all the hard work that you don't notice on a stat sheet," Johnson said about Bartsch. "He's so unselfish, and he could care less if he scores one point or 10 points — he just wants to win."
Bartsch finished with six points, five rebounds and one steal.
Sophomore Parker Nielsen extended Prescott's lead to 21 by hitting a three-pointer, which prompted another Durand timeout. Nielsen was Prescott's third leading scorer with 16 points. The 6'2" guard used his long wingspan to also contribute three steals to his team's win.
"Parker took huge leaps this summer, he developed skill-wise, he got in the weight room, and he grew three or four inches from last year," Johnson said, "but we knew how talented he was all along."
Nielsen was on the varsity roster last year, but he'll serve a much larger role on the Cardinals team as a sophomore.
"His work ethic is another reason why he's been so good, and I'm very happy how he played game one," Johnson said.
The Panthers managed to cut the Cardinals' lead to 15 at one point, but it was not nearly enough to make a late comeback.
Johnson sent his reserves in with three minutes left to go in the game, and Prescott fans applauded their varsity players who gave the crowd a glimpse of the high-level basketball they'll get to see throughout the season.
Prescott fans can expect another thrilling game on Thursday, Dec. 7 when the Cardinals continue their season on the road at Ellsworth.
"We've really got to focus defensively," Johnson said about the Cardinals' upcoming game. "A couple of times against Durand we kind of broke down and gave up easy buckets, and that can't happen against Ellsworth.
"We're excited, we know it's going to be a tough place to play, but we're up for the challenge."