To say that the Tomah Timberwolves got a lift from their bench is an understatement.
Mason Brandt and Mason Gerke came off the bench to score a combined 23 points in the first half to lead the Timberwolves past Onalaska Luther 56-46 in a nonconference boys basketball game Tuesday at Tomah High School.
It was the opener for both teams.
The Timberwolves trailed 13-4 when coach Brad Plueger summoned his bench, and the results were electric. Gerke’s first shot was a 3-pointer that cut the gap to 13-8, and Brandt buried back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Timberwolves an 18-14 lead they would never lose.
“It was a huge momentum swing,” Plueger ssaid. “People don’t know how hard it is to sit there for six or seven minutes and then come in ... it was pretty special for those two guys.”
Brandt finished the first half with 17 points and Gerke had six. Neither scored in a second half dominated by defense. The two teams combined for eight points in the first 11 minutes of the second half, and the contest was still up for grabs after Luther center Bennett Loersch converted consecutive buckets to cut Tomah’s lead to 39-37.
Seth Huneck responded with a driving layup − Tomah’s first field goal in nine minutes − followed by two foul shots by Trevor Shutter and a 3-pointer by Trey Gnewikow with 3:21 left that pushed Tomah’s lead to 46-37.
That put Luther in a chase-and-foul mode, and the Timberwolves executed down the stretch. They scored a pair of breakaway layups and made six of eight foul shots in the final 2:20.
Plueger was impressed by Tomah’s defense, especially after Luther opened the game with a pair of 3-pointers in the first 74 seconds to take a 6-0 lead. Once Luther stopped making perimeter shots, Tomah dominated the defensive glass against a team with impressive size.
“We made it one and done,” Plueger said.
He said Shutter played outstanding defense against Loersch, who finished with 17 points but didn’t get his hands on the ball very much.
“Trevor did a good job of pushing him off the block,” Plueger said.
Peter Brey was the only other Tomah player to reach double figures. He had 12 points and made all four of his foul shots.
The Timberwolves return home Friday to play West Salem in a nonconference game starting at 7:15 p.m.
TOMAH 56 ONALASKA LUTHER 46
Onalaska Luther—Byus 11, McNamara 3, Kutz 10, Matzke 3, Koenig 2, Loersch 17.
Tomah—Gnewikow 6, Kroener 4, Brandt 17, Gerke 6, Huneck 6, Brey 12, Shutter 5.
Three-point goals -Byus 2, Kutz 2, Gnewikow, Brandt 3, Gerke 2.
Luther 29 17 − 46
Tomah 35 21 − 56