EagleHerald/Billy BettsPeshtigo's Cam Noffke begins to rise up for a contested shot while being defended by Parker James of Oconto on Thursday.
EagleHerald/Billy Betts
Peshtigo's Cam Noffke begins to rise up for a contested shot while being defended by Parker James of Oconto on Thursday.
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DENMARK, Wis. — The Northeastern Conference boys’ basketball title is within reach, but to claim it, the Marinette Marines must win on the road.

On Thursday night, Marinette won its first of three huge road tests against top-echelon NEC teams. The Marines defeated Denmark 63-58 for their 10th straight victory.

“Tonight was a typical Marinette game,” Marine coach Nick Semenas said. “We had a lot of ups and downs. A hostile environment, but I really think a lot of our guys like playing in those situations.”

Such as Jake Poetzl, who dominated with 26 points and 13 rebounds. Matt Wagner didn’t hit a 3-pointer all night, but he had 17 points and did a lot of things to help his team win.

Foul trouble and 12 first-half turnovers hurt the Marines in the first half. Brady Jens scored to put the Vikings up 27-22. Marinette rallied to take a three-point halftime lead.

With Jordan Wendt, Tyler Fayta and Walker Stroming mired in foul trouble, Jeremy Wendt, Matt Eldredge and Trey Bretl provided valuable minutes off the bench for the Marines.

“They all did a great job, especially the first half,” Semenas said. “They stepped in huge for our guys. They were all part of that run late in the first half that gave us the lead back.”

Marinette cleaned up its play considerably with just three turnovers after halftime. The Marine 1-3-1 zone helped force five quick turnovers early in the second half. That led to a 7-1 lead which bumped Marinette’s lead to 51-40. Wagner drove to the hoop for a basket, Jeremy Wendt scored and Wagner grabbed a rebound, went coast-to-coast and scored on a three-point play. Jeremy Wendt fed Poetzl for a bucket and the 51-40 lead.

A basket by Patrick Suemnick and two 3-pointers by Jens helped cut the Marine lead to 59-58 with three minutes remaining.

From that point on, Marinette’s defense took over. Stroming made two steals and Poetzl intercepted a pass. Poetzl drove to the hoop for a 61-58 lead and Wagner hit two free throws with 1:20 remaining.

“We played in a lot of close games in the last two years, and a lot of guys are confident they can make the right plays,” Semenas said.

Wagner took advantage of some size mismatches to drive to the basket successfully. Poetzl scored practically at will.

“When we get him the ball down low and we do a good job of spacing so they don’t double-team, there’s no one around one-on-one who can stop him,” Semenas said.

Jeremy Wendt provided six points and eight rebounds.

Marinette improved to 13-2 overall, 10-1 in the NEC. Denmark (9-5 overall, 7-4 in the NEC) had won five straight and eight of nine games before Thursday.

The Marine junior varsity 1 team lost 44-39. Rylie Nelson led the Marines with 17 points. Marinette’s JV 2 team won 52-36. Asaia Polazzo led the Marines with 32 points.

MARINETTE (63) — Poetzl 26, Jordan Wendt 6, Wagner 17, Stroming 6, Fayta 2, Jeremy Wendt 6, Bretl 0, Eldredge 0. FGs: 22-50; FTs: 17-25

DENMARK (58) — Jens 22, Suemnick 14, Satori 5, Short 9, Pelischek 9. FGs: 22-57; FTs: 11-20