The Mosinee boys basketball team saw an eight-point lead evaporate early in the fourth quarter.
But its senior captains, Andy Maas and Jay Ritger took control and made several key plays down the stretch, as Mosinee held off hard-charging Wausau East 58-53 in a non-conference season opener for both teams.
Maas and Ritger combined to score 15 of Mosinee's 17 fourth quarter points in the final eight minutes.
"We held our composure," Maas said. "Early on we were turning it over there in the fourth quarter, but we got a timeout and regained our composure."
Mosinee held a 41-33 entering the fourth quarter, but the Lumberjacks quickly erased that lead with a run-and-jump press that led to an 8-0 run, sparked by Adam Urmanski's hustle.
"I give our seniors a lot of credit, they really ratcheted up the pressure in the second half there," East coach Jason Teske said. "We haven't really run it at all in practice, they just went off of what they did last year. They did a good job with it."
Urmanski dove on the floor to keep a ball alive in between two Mosinee players and after East gained posession, Cole Nelson found Conrad Felten wide open for a layup. Moments later Mosinee turned it over again and Urmanski layed it in and drew a foul to knot the game at 41-41.
"We knew the run-and-jump press was coming," Mosinee coach Andy Bruess said. "I have watched enough tape on East to know that. Give them credit, they rattled us, but I thought we did a good job of bouncing back. Basketball is a game of runs and we were able to weather the storm."
After East grabbed a brief 44-43 advantage, Mosinee rattled off six straight points, all by Maas and Ritger to snag a 49-44 lead. After East clawed back within one, Maas slithered his way to the hoop for a layup and the senior captains iced the game from the foul line.
"Give Mosinee credit, they made the plays when they needed too," Teske said.
Maas finished with 19 points and 12 rebounds and Ritger added 15 points (12 in the second half) for Mosinee.
"Jay is a three-year letterman and a great leader," Bruess said. "He is the type of guy, you want the ball in his hand at the end. And Andy, I mean what can I say. Last year he averaged about one point per game. He worked his tail off this summer and it showed tonight."
Added Maas, "Jay and I, we have been playing together since we could walk, so we have a good chemistry on the court. We want the ball in our hands at the end. I was in the weight room and in the gym all summer and I can't credit my teammates enough for helping me with my game and that showed tonight."
East was paced by Felten, who finished with 18 points and was 8-of-9 from the foul line, as he attacked the rim relentlessly much of the night.
"We are kind of trying to figure out what we are as a team. We have a lot of bigs and a lot of guards and we are trying to figure out how to gel offensively. But, Conrad is a good athlete and he can (get to the rim) and is very effective."
One difference in the game was Mosinee's 1-3-1 zone, which forced the Lumberjacks to shoot more outside shots. East hit just 2-of-18 three points, and did not hit one in the second half.
"I thought we got some good looks, we just weren't hitting them. This was the first game of the year, and I expect us to hit a lot more of those as the season goes on. Give Mosinee and coach Bruess credit, I thought the 1-3-1 was effective."
The game had a buzzing atmosphere and did not feel like a typical opener, but perhaps that was because of how hotly contested the game was. Neither team led by more than eight points and the game featured nine ties and eight lead changes.
"This had a playoff type feel to it," Maas said. "It was really close all the way through. We held it together and got the win. If you didn't like playing tonight, you don't like high school basketball."
Mosinee 58, Wausau East 53
WAUSAU EAST (53): Cole Nelson 2, Adam Urmanski 7, Conrad Felten 18, Bryce Widmark 9, Justin Strom 10, Jase Meyer 3, Sean Wilson 2, Max Mladek 2.
MOSINEE (58): Max Soderberg 8, Jay Ritger 15, Andy Haas 19, Brandon Piotrowski 6, Peter Maguire 4, James Lloyd 2, Aaron Maas 2, Zach Sippl 2.
3-pointers: East 2, (Urmanski, Meyer); Mosinee 3, (Maas, Piotrowski 2).
Records: Mosinee 1-0, Wausau East 0-1.