EagleHerald/Billy Betts
Coleman’s Preston Gusick gets fouled by Tyler Gruszynski of Wausaukee as he goes up for a contested lay-up during the first half of their game in Wausaukee on Friday.
EagleHerald/Billy Betts

Coleman’s Preston Gusick gets fouled by Tyler Gruszynski of Wausaukee as he goes up for a contested lay-up during the first half of their game in Wausaukee on Friday.

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WAUSAUKEE — Coleman’s size, coupled with consistent shooting, proved to be too much against a struggling Wausaukee boys basketball team on Friday.

A late first-half run helped carry the Cougars through the second half to easily defeat the Rangers 69-40 in their first M&O Conference game of the season.

“The ball movement was a step up for us tonight compared to our three non-conference games,” Coleman coach Tim Forner said. “Our patience was better and we just looked more in sync on both sides of the ball.”

Boasting several players 6-foot-3 or taller, the longer Cougars took advantage of a smaller Wausaukee squad that struggled to take care of the basketball en route to 34 turnovers.

“Our mental toughness wasn’t there tonight,” Wausaukee coach Dave Lindbeck said. “It wasn’t about talent or size. We were rattled, especially late in the first half and never recovered.”

With just over eight minutes left in the first half, the Rangers were within three points of the Cougars at 17-14, after difficult mid-ranger jumpers by Brandon Shigouri and Tristan Pollard. Coleman’s Payton Nelson quickly closed the door on Wausaukee staying in the game by drilling a 3-pointer, followed by a stolen pass that he converted into a fastbreak layup.

Two free throws apiece by Nick Teteak and Nelson extended the Cougars’ lead to 26-14 with over six minutes remaining in the first half.

Wausaukee, which turned the ball over five times during that stretch, got to within 28-19 two minutes later on two Tyler Gruszynski free throws. Nelson, though, once again scored a fast break basket off of a turnover and Simon Maedke drilled a triple to extend Coleman’s lead to 35-20.

“The end of the first half just got away from us,” said Lindbeck. “We’re working on a new offense and we tried pushing the ball up the court more. We just needed to slow down and let things develop.”

Holding a 37-20 halftime lead, the Cougars went on a 14-4 run over the first seven minutes of the second half to take a 51-24 lead.

Cayden Bintz and Teteak scored six points apiece during that stretch as the duo formed a nice inside-out tandem, which kept the Rangers on their heels.

“We like to run multiple screens in our offense and if you’re patient, you can make the right passes to the open player,” Forner said. “We got the right looks and our defense stepped up and made some plays.”

Nelson led all scorers for Coleman (1-3 overall, 1-0 in the M&O), with 15 points. Teteak finished with 15 and both Bintz and Preston Gusick added 14 apiece.

The Rangers (1-2 overall, 1-1 in the M&O), were paced by Brandon Shigouri with 11 points. Christian Shigouri and Pollard each netted eight points.

“If you defend and rebound every night, you’re usually going to be in every game,” Forner said. “Our offense made plays when it needed to, but our defense traveled well tonight.”

Coleman’s next game is at home against Suring on Monday and Wausaukee travels to St. Thomas Aquinas Academy.