Shawano boys basketball team fends off Clippers at Sun Drop Shootout

Dustin Riese

Unlike the girls, wins have been hard to come by for the Shawano boys as they entered the Sun Drop Shootout on a three-game losing streak and sitting at 2-8 overall on the season. Looking to get back on track against a talented Sturgeon Bay squad, the Hawks found themselves locked in a battle that went down to the final minutes of regulation.

Led by the guard combo of Logan Sipple and Will Verkuielen, who combined for more than 40 points, it was the Hawks who made just enough plays down the stretch and held off the Clippers 67-62. It was the Hawks’ first win in a couple of weeks and just their third win of the season.

“The boys did a good job of coming out with high energy right from the start of the game,” head coach David Ambrosius said. “Defensively, I thought we did a good job of pressuring Sturgeon Bay and forcing them to play our tempo, which was especially crucial down the stretch.”

When it comes to Sipple, he has had an incredible start to the season as he was the Hawks’ offense in the early going. Had it not been for a pair of Verkuilen free throws early, Sipple would’ve scored every point for his team as he was responsible for 10 of the teams first 12 points to give the Hawks a 12-6 lead. Whether it be his ability to knock shots down from distance or using his athleticism to create steals and get to the rim, the Clippers began to take him away offensively, which forced other players to get involved.

It was looking like Ayden Bystol would be one of those players as he found himself grabbing four quick points to push the lead to 16-8 with Crew Weisnicht using his size down low to make things happen. While it was the Sipple show for the Hawks early on, Calvin Richard began to assert himself for the Clippers offensively as he led all scorers in the first half with 17 points.

Richardson was especially good from distance as he connected on three late first-half triples to take what was nearly a double-digit deficit early on and gave the Clippers a 31-29 lead.

The Sipple and Richardson show continued the rest of the first half, but it was the Clippers who managed to hold strong as they headed into the locker room leading 36-31.

Once the second half began, it was more of the same for the Clippers as a quick triple from Daniel Lodl gave Sturgeon Bay their largest lead of the night 39-31, and had the Hawks searching for answers. Fortunately, those answers came from the Verkuilen and Sipple duo as those scored 12 of the Hawks’ next 14 points as Shawano used a 13-1 run to retake the lead 43-40.

“Logan and Will did a great job of attacking to start the game, and I think it helped get both of them into a rhythm early in the game,” Ambrosius said. “When those two are playing together at that level, it makes us a completely different team, and I think we showed that this afternoon. If they can continue to play at that level, big things are going to come for us the rest of the way.”

As expected, the Clippers wouldn’t go away quietly, with Jackson Starr putting Sturgeon Bay back on top 45-44. That seemed to motivate the Hawks and their offense as Verkuilen and Sipple continued to do their thing on the offensive end, which opened up the paint for Weisnicht to get to the line or finish at the rim. Following a second two-hand slam from Sipple to open up a 53-45 lead, it was the Clippers who responded as Richardson knocked down his fifth triple of the game to keep his team within striking distance.

From there, it became a game of execution, and despite what was an overall great afternoon for the Hawks, execution down the stretch wasn’t ideal. Not only was their defense not getting the stops they needed and allowing the Clippers to get to the free throw line, but the Hawks were failing to sink free throws on their end, allowing the Clippers to keep things close 57-54.

All it took for the momentum to shift was one clutch bucket from Warner Beyer as his triple from the corner made things 60-54 and essentially put the game out of reach. Even with the Hawks struggling to make their free throws down the stretch, they maintained a two possession lead and relied on their defense when they needed it the most. That defense showed up in the final minutes as they forced the Clippers into a ton of tough shots, resulting in misses.

“Defensively, especially late, I thought the boys did an excellent job of finding a way to get the job done,” Ambrosius said. “Certainly there were some breakdowns at times, but in the big moments, our kids made the necessary plays to come out of here with a win this afternoon.”