Merrill simply the better team in season-ending 70-45 loss

John McMurry looks to keep the basketball moving for Medford during the second half of Friday's 70-45 loss at Merrill in a WIAA Division 2 regional semifinal. Photo by Matt Frey/The Star NewsMedford's Onyi Ekwueme shoots a mid-range jumper over Merrill's Quinn Steckbauer during the second half of Friday's loss. Ekwueme had a team-high four assists in the loss. Photo by Matt Frey/The Star News

A good mid-game run offset a slow start and got Medford back in Friday’s WIAA Division 2 boys basketball regional semifinal for a while, but top-seeded Merrill was not rattled and pulled away in the last nine minutes to end the Raiders’ season with a 70-45 victory.
A long 3-pointer by Medford’s Justin Sullivan with 11:10 left to play had the Raiders still within six of the heavily-favored Blue Jays, but a steal and score by Chase Bonnell and a 3-pointer by Michael Casper put Merrill back up double digits at 46-35 and then the Jays took advantage of a big foul disparity in the second half, putting the game away with free throws and, in the very late going, layups against Medford’s desperation trapping defense.
The eighth-seeded Raiders finished 10-14, while Merrill (20-4) is riding an eight-game winning streak into a sectional semifinal tonight, Thursday, against two-seed New London (16-7) in Antigo. Merrill eliminated Great Northern Conference champion Mosinee 98-76 in Saturday’s regional final.
For the full story, pick up a copy of this week’s issue of The Star News.

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