For the second straight game, the Tomah Timberwolves didn’t play well with a big lead.
They got away with it against West Salem, but it caught up with them Tuesday against Wisconsin Rapids.
Tomah lost an 11-point lead in the second half and dropped a 45-42 decision to the Red Raiders in a nonconference boys basketball game at Tomah High School.
It was the first loss of the season for the Timberwolves, who opened with two straight victories.
“This was a very disappointing loss,” Tomah coach Brad Plueger said.
Tomah had a 35-24 lead after Josh Dahlke dunked an alley-oop pass from Peter Brey with 9:49 left, but Wisconsin Rapids ended the game on a 21-7 run.
Two free throws by Zach Langemeier gave Wisconsin Rapids its first lead of the second half at 41-40 with 2:13 left.
Tomah regained the lead 17 seconds later on a driving layup by Kyle Kroener, but those would be Tomah’s last points. The Timberwolves missed the front end of a one-and-one with 1:06 left, and Wisconsin Rapids worked the clock down to 22 seconds before Langemeier buried a 3-pointer for a 44-42 Red Raiders lead.
The Timberwolves worked the ball across midcourt before Plueger called timeout with 11 seconds left. They got the ball to Dahlke, who missed a mid-range jumper, got his own rebound and launched a bank shot that somehow rimmed out. Langemeier got the rebound and made one of two foul shots with .9 seconds left to close out the scoring.
Plueger said an impatient, turnover-prone offense allowed Wisconsin Rapids to come back.
“We just did a very poor job of execution,” Plueger said. “We just telegraphed too many passes. We can’t have 19 turnovers against a team that wasn’t pressuring us very much.”
He said Tomah got very little out of a halfcourt offense that didn’t take advantage of its size in the post.
“You can see we don’t have a true point guard,” Plueger said. “We don’t shoot the ball very well, and we take very quick shots. If you go through our film, I bet it was maybe two passes or three passes ... as soon as we get a post touch and a kick out, it goes up. I think we can get a better shot than that.”
Tomah led most of the game thanks to a 15-2 run in the first half that transformed a 9-6 deficit into a 22-11 lead. Foul trouble kept Tomah from padding its lead further in the second half. Trevor Shutter picked up his fourth foul with 11:16 left before fouling out at the 2:13 mark. Dahlke finished with four fouls.
Dahlke led the Timberwolves with 20 points and made five of six foul shots.
Langemeier led all scorers with 27.
The Timberwolves get 10 days off before heading to La Crosse Logan Friday, Dec. 15 for a 7:15 p.m. contest. It’s the second half of a girls-boys varsity doubleheader.
WISCONSIN RAPIDS 45 TOMAH 42
Wisconsin Rapids—Krommenakker 2, Lisitza 3, Hewitt 13, Langemeier 27.
Tomah—Kroener 13, Brandt 2, Dahlke 20, Brey 5, Shutter 2.
Three-point goals—Langemeier 3, Dahlke, Brey.
Tomah 22 20 − 42
Wis Rapids 13 32 − 45