Not quite enough

Posen can’t get by Cards in season opener

News Photo by James Andersen Posen's Jared Sharpe (2) drives to the basket past Whittemore-Prescott's Alex Yorton during the first half of a boys basketball game on Monday at Posen High School.

POSEN–The Posen boys basketball team has come a long way from last year’s season opener.

But as the Vikings showed on Monday, they’ve still got some work to do.

Posen played Whittemore-Prescott close from buzzer to buzzer on Monday, but couldn’t find an extra gear when it needed to and lost 54-48 at Posen High School.

Alex Yorton and Dana Thorson each scored 14 points and Bobby Maxwell added 13 for the Cardinals, who led by as few as three points in the final minutes, but still managed to hold off the Vikings.

Free throws proved crucial down the stretch and made a noticeable difference in the outcome. The Cardinals shot 13-for-25 from the charity stripe while Posen was just 1-of-4.

Still, Monday’s game was a far cry from last year’s opener when the Cardinals routed Posen 81-16.

“Last year we lost to Whittemore-Prescott by 65. This year we lose by six. The game was within our grasp many times,” Posen coach Chris Keller said. “Really we just get to the line more. They got to the free throw line way more. If I look at the stat book right now, they beat us at the free throw line.”

Jared Sharpe paced Posen with 16 points and Jeremy Misiak added 10.

A three point play by Sharpe made it 51-48 with 3:59 left, but the Vikings couldn’t draw any closer. Posen was held scoreless the rest of the way while the Cardinals made enough free throws to keep a lead.

It was a familiar refrain for the Vikings all night; they got close enough to contend for the win, but couldn’t quite push past Whittemore. Posen trailed by just two early in the third quarter and just three with about five minutes left in the game, but the Vikings were undone by inconsistency on offense and an inability to stop the Cardinals when they needed to.

Whittemore was proficient from long range, sinking six triples and many of them seemed to come just as Posen drew close.

“I thought our ball movement was exactly like we practiced. I thought we shot the ball well,” Keller said. “This team is better.”

Posen for its part made some key treys when it counted. With 5:55 to play, Mark Wisniewski made the home crowd cheer with a three-pointer. Sharpe followed with his triple with 4:51 left, but it proved to be one of Posen’s last big shots of the night.

The Vikings got off to a fast start, taking a 7-2 lead to open the game before Whittemore got going. Trailing 9-5, Whittemore reeled off a 13-0 to take the lead for good.

The Cardinals led 20-11 after eight minutes, but Posen rallied with a pair of treys to open the second quarter. Once again the Cardinals had an answer and pushed their lead to 24-17. A three-pointer from Wisniewski with 2:31 left in the half made it 25-22, but again Posen could draw no closer.

Keller was pleased with his team’s effort, but said his team is still learning. After going 3-17 last season, the Vikings are still learning what it takes to win.

“Of course they’re still learning. This is the beginning of what I think is going to be a really successful program for a few years to come,” Keller said. “It’s a constant learning curve.”

Posen cut Whittemore’s lead to two points twice in the third quarter, but Yorton made sure the Cardinals stayed in the lead. He scored eight points in the quarter and Posen trailed 42-37 after three quarters.

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WHITTEMORE (54): B. Maxwell 5 2-8 13; D. Thorson 5 1-2 14; A. Yorton 5 1-2 14; K. Colton 2 5-7 9; T. Harrison 0 3-4 3; M. Blust 0 1-2 1.

POSEN (48): J. Sharpe 6 1-1 16; J. Misiak 5 0-0 10; M. Wisniewski 4 0-1 11; E. Hincka 1 0-0 3; S. Brunet 1 0-2 2; A. Werth 2 0-0 4; C. Paull 1 0-0 2.