Although the city of Antigo and the towns of Wittenberg and Birnamwood, which share a high school, are close in proximity, there basketball teams were more than miles apart Tuesday night.
In a non-conference match up on Tuesday, Jan. 20, the Antigo Red Robins (9-3, 4-2) beat the Wittenberg-Birnamwood Chargers (2-10, 1-4), 50-31 at the Sheldon Fieldhouse in Antigo.
The Chargers, who started three freshmen on the night, got off to a good start, jumping out to a quick 6-2 lead, and led, 8-7, after the first quarter. It would be the last time the Chargers would lead in the game.
In the second quarter it was the three ball that took the game over for the Red Robins. In the quarter, sophomore guards Braxton Resch and Matt Arndt, along with senior guard Cameron Noskowiak, combined to go 4-for-6 from the three-point line and in the process took a commanding, 23-15, halftime lead thanks to the trio of guards.
“In the past we’ve had one guy who scores all the points,” Red Robins head coach Jesse Shaw said. “This year it’s not that way. We have a number of guys that can shoot, post-up, and who can be the leading scorer. It’s a luxury to have.”
In the second half it was all Red Robins as they used a huge third quarter to take a sound, 43-23, lead heading into the fourth quarter, thanks in part to their renewed defensive effort.
“We stepped up in the second half,” Shaw said. “They didn’t score more than eight points in a quarter tonight. We changed up our defenses all night and tried to make it difficult on them.”
The pace slowed down in the fourth quarter with the game seemingly in hand. The two teams combined for just 15 points in the quarter, as Antigo went on to win the game, 50-31.
Antigo was led in scoring by Arndt, who had 17 points.
Resch totaled 10 points.
Senior center Jack Lund, Noskowiak and senior forward Luke Osborne, all chipped in six points each.
With the win, the Red Robins improve to 9-3, with a record of 4-2 in conference play.
The Red Robins are still very much in the thick of things pertaining to the Great Northern Conference title.
Currently, they trail Rhinelander, who is a perfect 6-0 in conference play this season. They also trail Lakeland, who is 4-2 in conference play. The good news for the Red Birds is they will welcome in Lakeland to Antigo on Friday night (Jan. 23) in what will be a game with big GNC implications. They will also play at Rhinelander on Feb. 13.
As for Shaw’s message to his team as they prepare for the final portion of the season:
“We’re a little behind the eight ball, in regards to the conference championship,” Shaw said. “We have some work to do. We just have to take it one game at a time and it starts Friday with Lakeland.”