Eagles no match for Chargers

Dustin Riese

At this point in the basketball season, most teams have two goals in mind.

First, you want to be as healthy as possible leading into the stretch run. Second, you want to be playing your best basketball heading into the playoffs.

When it comes to Wittenberg-Birnamwood, not only are they healthy, but at 16-2 overall, they have been playing great basketball all season and that didn’t stop Jan. 29.

Facing off against Northland Pines (7-11) for one of their final non-conference games of the season, it was the Chargers who continued their winning ways as they dominated the Eagles in every facet 72-34.

“We handled ourselves well tonight,” head coach Nick Mechelke said. “We really focused on playing smart, and we pretty much did that tonight.”

You couldn’t have asked for a much better start for the Chargers than how they opened the game; they could do no wrong on either end of the floor. Whether it be the ability of Rory Salvesen to get to the rim or knock down shots, she nearly outscored the Eagles roster by herself as she finished the night with a game-high 21 points.

Throw in the 16 points from Harper Rogowski and 14 points from Faith Resch and the Chargers had three players land in double figures as they controlled the offense most of the first half. Anytime you can get that much production from three players, you have to love your chances as a group, and with a 44-13 lead at the half, Mechelke was extremely proud of how his team came out and set the tone early.

“I was really pleased with how we played in that first half,” he said. “Offensively, we had tremendous balance from top to bottom, and we just played well from the start.”

Had the Chargers not scored a single point the rest of the night, they still would’ve done enough to win as their defense was equally as good as the offense.

Vienna Klemett and Aubrey Beyer took a while to get things going, but they continued to play well for the Eagles. Most of their production came in the second half, but when you face such a large deficit it becomes more about finding some positive takeaways as opposed to winning the actual game.

One of the takeaways the Eagles have from this game was having their offense play much better in the second half, but a lot of that can be attributed to the Chargers not being as aggressive on the defensive end.

Through the midway point in the second half, the Eagles managed to keep pace with the Chargers as Wittenberg-Birnamwood outscored them 17-16 to push their lead to 61-29. That was until Rogowski came through with five quick points to push their lead to 66-29 as the running clock was approaching.

Even with Emma Weber connecting on a contested three late in the game for Northland Pines, their sluggish first half loomed large as Rogowski and Kit Stewart closed out the scoring for the Chargers in what was another impressive showing.

Although it will be the offense that gets most of the talk in this one, don’t discredit the defense as that side of the ball played equally as well.

“Our defense has been our calling card all season,” Mechelke said. “Tonight was one of those nights where our defense helped lead to our offense. We were intense defensively and were far more consistent than we have been in recent weeks.”

In the Central Wisconsin East Conference, the Chargers are within striking distance of a conference title, but with two losses and both coming to Bonduel, it will be an uphill climb for the Chargers to achieve a conference crown.