EagleHerald/Brian Bell
Cade Tackmier of Peshtigo shoots a 3-pointer over an Amherst defender in front of the Peshtigo student section during Tuesday’s WIAA Division 3 regional opener in Peshtigo.
EagleHerald/Brian Bell

Cade Tackmier of Peshtigo shoots a 3-pointer over an Amherst defender in front of the Peshtigo student section during Tuesday’s WIAA Division 3 regional opener in Peshtigo.

PESHTIGO — After Amherst scored the first basket of the game the Peshtigo boys basketball team scored 32-straight points to take control and the Bulldogs coasted to a 54-35 rout of the Falcons in Tuesday’s WIAA Division Division 3 regional opener.

“I thought our first 12 minutes are what won the game for us,” Peshtigo coach Nate Motkowski said. “We had great intensity on both ends, we made smart plays on offense and defensively we communicated and worked hard and that kind of set the pace for the game. We had some lapses later in the game but I was really happy with the way we started.”

Cade Tackmier scored nine of the Bulldogs’ first 11 points to force Amherst into its first timeout with 14 minutes, 49 seconds remaining in the first half. Peshtigo kept adding to its total out of the timeout as Jacob Berth’s corner 3-pointer put the Bulldogs up 26-2 around the eight-minute mark.

Amherst had an opportunity to get some more points on the board at the free throw line with 7:50 to play, but two misses led to a pull up jumper from Tackmier and a jump shot from and two free throws from Luke McMahon hiked the lead 32-2 and capped off a 32-0 run.

The Falcons finally scored another bucket with 5:41 on the clock, but were stuck on four until another two minutes came off the clock when Ben Lee grabbed an offense rebound and put it back up to cut the deficit to 35-6.

Peshtigo took a 37-8 lead into halftime thanks to a pair of free throws from Adam Bauman that were canceled out by another basket from Lee.

Amherst struggled from the field in the first half and Peshtigo forced a number of turnovers to get out to its comfortable advantage, but in the second half the Bulldogs got a little too comfortable at times and that allowed Amherst to outscore Peshtigo 27-17 in the final 18 minutes.

The Falcons scored the first six points of the second half before Breydon Demmith got the lid off the rim for Peshtigo to make it 39-14.

Peshtigo’s lead would hover between 18-25 points for the remainder of the game, giving Motkowski the opportunity to experiment with some different lineups to try and get every player on the team ready for Friday’s semifinal.

“We tried a couple different things and lineups and our guys made some good plays, but at times we looked a little sloppy and we really need to clean that up for Friday,” he said. “We know we’re a young team. We play a lot of sophomores and a freshman, and that’s the first varsity playoff game for a lot of them. I know the nerves were high and you could see that, so it was a good learning experience for them but we definitely need to get better for Friday.”

Tackmier led Peshtigo with 18 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and five steals while Landon Lemke and Bauman each added 10 points. Alex Felckowski led Amherst with eight and Ian Hall and Cyle Zblewski added seven each.

Peshtigo has a tall-task ahead of them in Friday’s semifinal as the Bulldogs will travel to meet a team they are familiar with in No. 3 seed Xavier.

“We have a lot of film on (Xavier) and we’ve seen them a few times over the past few years so we know what they’re all about,” Motkowski said. “They had a great run in the Bay Conference where they play all Division 1 and 2 schools and they’re sitting with the 3-seed so they got a chance to watch us tonight. They’re deep, they can shoot a lot of three’s, they have a high-paced offense and they get in your face defensively.

“For us, we’re going to need to take care of the ball, have some longer possessions to keep the ball out of their hands and defensively we have to do a better job of communicating and just rebounding as a whole.”

Peshtigo and Xavier meet for a 7 p.m. tip on Friday to see who gets a spot in Saturday’s regional championship.

AMHERST (35) — Felckowski 8, Hall 7, Zblewski 7, Cullen 5, Lee 4, Oleson 4. FTs: 3-11.

PESHTIGO (54) — Tackmier 18, Lemke 10, Bauman 10, Demmith 6, McMahon 5, Berth 3, Rehwinkel 2. FTs: 11-18.

Halftime score: Peshtigo 37, Amherst 8