Brandon Merfeld got things cooking, and his Aquinas High School boys basketball teammates kept things rolling on Tuesday night.
The Blugolds’ junior scored the first nine points of the game, and Aquinas rolled to an 87-45 season-opening victory over Viroqua in front of approximately 500 fans at the Reinhart Athletic Complex.
Merfeld connected on his first four field goal attempts of the game, and a pair of free throws from Jacob Savoldelli gave the Blugolds (1-0) an 11-0 lead with 15:01 to play in the first half.
“It was terrific, for him to get out there and really give that energy, the lift we talked about in the locker room of coming out, playing hard, and really dictating and setting the tone of the game,” said second-year Aquinas coach Brad Reinhart. “Brandon and the other guys did that right from the start.”
The Blugolds and the Blackhawks (0-1) went back and forth over the next seven minutes, before a 12-0 run by Aquinas helped stretch a 10-point lead into a 38-16 advantage. Merfeld, senior Conley Malone and senior Randy Jacobson each had two baskets in the run, which was sparked by four straight Viroqua turnovers on the perimeter.
“We’ll try to get up and take care of business, one pass away from the ball, and our guys were able to do that at times tonight,” Reinhart said. “Sometimes defense can be your best offense and lead to some good energy.”
Merfeld finished with a game-high 25 points, including 21 in the first half. Malone and Jacobson each finished with 20 points for Aquinas, with Jacobson scoring 13 points after halftime.
“With Randy, it’s about patience and strength,” Reinhart said of the 6-foot-6 senior. “As long as he makes a good, thought-out move, good things are going to happen for him. I was happy to see him do that, especially in the second half.”
Junior Andrew Wedwick had 15 points to lead Viroqua.