WIND POINT, Wis. — The Marinette boys basketball team finished off a weekend of non-conference hardwood action with a 85-62 loss to The Prairie School on Saturday.

The Marines struggled to close out on the perimeter against Prairie School shooters, allowing the Hawks to go 15-33 on 3-pointers, while also committing 16 turnovers and being out-rebounded 29-23.

“They got hot from 3-point range and defensively we were late on the closeout and didn’t apply enough pressure,” Marinette head coach Matt Joost said. “We gave them a lot of open looks but they were also able to hit a couple of contested three’s. Sometimes that’s just how things go in the game of basketball. We did a better job taking care of the ball in this game than we did against Kenosha Bradford, but we still have a lot of work to do in that area. Prairie School didn’t play nearly as much pressure against us, so we should have had a lot less than 16 turnovers. I think if that number is closer to 10, we would have had a better chance in this game.”

Prairie School opened the game on a 7-0 run and quickly took a 17-4 lead behind Antuan Nesbitt, who drilled two 3-pointers while also scoring in the point en route to his team-high 22 points.

“Nesbitt was able to get to the basket at will against us,” Joost said. “He was able to really free up their players from deep with how he was playing in the post. He’s a different type of athlete that we’re not used to seeing much in our conference.”

Matt Maye and Jake Sommerfeldt went a combined 3-7 from 3-point range and Richard Green chipped in six points to keep the Marines in the game, but a barrage of 3-pointers from Jacob Fallico, Liam Shannon and K.J. Williams allowed The Prairie School to take a 44-26 lead at halftime.

Asaia Polazzo stepped up for Marinette and took over the offense, with the majority of his team-high 29 points coming in the second half. Dylan Poquette nailed both of his 3-point attempts while Alex Shaw and Keegan Polomis combined for seven points to help the Marines cut into the Hawks’ lead. However, Prairie School was able to stay hot from deep in the second half, with long-range bombs from Fallico proving to be the difference, and the Hawks were able to hold on for the victory.

While it didn’t result in a win, Joost said he liked the effort that his offense came out with after halftime.

“I thought that we moved the ball much better in the second half and that we were taking much better shots,” he said. “Asaia really stepped up but need a couple of guys to step up with him and help him out. We need to be more aggressive and get to the basket more going forward.”

While the Marines have lost their entire starting rotation to graduation, plenty of talent returns for Marinette, albeit without much varsity experience.

Marinette will lean heavily on its defense as the offense sorts itself out and Joost believes that his team’s performance on the less-glamorous end of the court will go a long way towards determining the team’s success this season.

“We want to be a hard-nosed, gritty team that plays with effort and does the little things right on defense,” he said. “It’s hard to define what ‘success’ will be this year with so many guys that haven’t played a lot of varsity minutes but obviously, at the end of the day, we want to win games.”

Polazzo, who plays the forward position, has established himself early on as Marinette’s biggest scoring threat after dropping 29 against Prairie School and another 16 against Kenosha Bradford. While Polazzo has been the offensive fulcrum through two games, he’s not the only talented offense option that the Marines have.

Green, who also plays forward, is the team’s tallest player at 6-2 and figures to see plenty of action in the post and underneath the basket. Sommerfeldt and Maye will start at the guard positions for Marinette and will be counted on to provide scoring and defense on the perimeter. 

Dylan Poquette will see time at both guard and forward and will be tasked with shutting down the opposing team’s best offensive player. Throw in the versatile Nate Poetzl, who can play any position on the court, and Marinette has a strong six-man rotation. Sam Albert, Jason Pleau and Carson Erdman, along with Polomis and Shaw, will provide depth.

“Jake is good outside shooter and Matt is an aggressive scorer who plays that way on defense as well,” Joost said. “I think getting Richard involved in the offense will allow was to have much more balanced attack and obviously we’ve seen that Asaia can score. Dylan is our best defensive player and he worked really hard in the offseason to improve. Nate is a gritty kid that isn’t afraid to take a charge and really sets the tone for us on defense. Overall, I feel that we have enough talent to compete in our conference.”

Marinette begins North Eastern Conference action with a home game against Freedom on Tuesday at 7 p.m.

MARINETTE (62) — Polazzo 29, Sommerfeldt 8, Maye 6, Poquette 6, Green 6, Polomis 4, Shaw 3; FTs: 7-11.

THE PRAIRIE SCHOOL (85) — Nesbitt 22, Fallico 22, Hunter 16, L. Shannon 9, Williams 9, K. Shannon 3; Oglesby 2, Mills 2; FTs: 0-2.

Halftime Score: The Prairie School 44, Marinette 26.