The Fruitland boys basketball team was pushed to the limit against Weiser on Jan. 30, picking up a 70-59 win in front of the raucous Wolverine fans.
The game looked to be a rout early, with the Grizzlies opening on a 13-0 run. While Weiser was able to find some offense, Fruitland took a big 25-11 lead going into the second.
The Wolverines were able to slow the game down as it went on. A pair of threes by Pri Weatherall made it a 40-27 lead for Fruitland at the half.
The Wolverines refused to go away in the second half, and in the fourth quarter they were able to cut it to a four-point game after a pair of three-pointers by Weiser freshman Brett Spencer.
After a Fruitland timeout, the Grizzlies were able to get back into their game and made late free throws to take the 11-point win.
While he didn’t lead the Grizzlies in scoring Wednesday night, Joe Henggeler scored on a pair of layups late in the fourth quarter, effectively cutting off the Wolverines’ chances of a comeback. The junior guard ended the game with 11 points.
In the Fruitland timeout, Henggeler said the Grizzlies knew they just needed to get refocused on the game.
“Just everybody had to get on the same page,” Henggeler said. “We needed to settle down. Everybody needed to take a little break. We played well down the stretch.”
The Weiser student section was a big part of the Wolverines’ late attempt at a comeback, and Henggeler said it was hard to stay focused late as the student section went crazy at every Weiser score.
“They played so well,” Henggeler said. “It’s really a hard place to play.”
Jake O’Neil led the Grizzlies (14-4, 5-0 SRV) in scoring for the first time since returning from injury in early January. The senior scored 17 points, despite sitting out a lot in the third quarter after getting in foul trouble. Drake Stampfli scored 14 points and Cole Eiguren scored 13 points.
All Fruitland fans likely circled Feb. 8 on their calendars, as the Grizzlies will be travelling to Parma in the regular season finale. Parma, another tough place to play, will likely be another big test for the Grizzlies.
But Henggeler said the Grizzlies aren’t thinking about the Panthers just yet, as they have a date with Homedale and Payette (Wednesday) in the coming week first.
“We’re going to stay focused on Payette and Homedale first,” Henggeler said. “There’s no easy wins in this league. But we always want to focus on the defense. I think our offense is playing really well right now.”