Trevor Shutter scored a modest seven points Friday night, but his role in Tomah’s one-and-done defense was enormous.
Shutter led a defense that walled off the paint and owned the defensive boards, and it bailed out the Timberwolves in a 59-50 victory over West Salem in a nonconference boys basketball contest at Tomah High School.
“(Shutter) is a solid rock for us,” Tomah coach Brad Plueger said.
The defense was critical in a contest in which Tomah nearly blew a 17-point second half lead.
The Timberwolves appeared secure after Shutter made two foul shots for a 37-20 lead with 14:36 left. However, West Salem mounted a 21-6 run and had a chance to tie or take the lead when Shutter made his most visible defensive play of the night. He stole an entry pass, dribbled the length of the court and converted a layup that put the Timberwolves ahead 45-41 with 4:20 remaining.
The lead went to 49-43 after Shutter assisted Kyle Kroener on a fast-break layup with 2:56 left. That forced West Salem into hurried, low-percentage shots with little chance of creating offensive rebounds.
Plueger said assistant coach Jeff Brieske, who runs the defense, wrote “one-and-done” on the board before the game.
“We had to be one-and-done, and I thought our players responded,” Plueger said.
Leading the charge was Shutter, who presented multiple problems for West Salem’s offense.
“He’s a really good help defender ... he had to play quite a bit on the perimeter tonight,” Plueger said. “If you go in the post, he pushes you out so far without fouling ... and if you get it in the post, he’s setting his feet ready to take a charge, and you can’t make a move on him because his shoulders are so wide.”
Tomah built its lead thanks to 16 first-half points from Peter Brey. He finished with 21 and was five-of-six from the foul line.
“He’s a consistent mid-range jumper guy; you don’t see that very often now days,” Plueger said. “He’s still good enough to hit from the 3-point line, and his post work is very good. If he catches it in the post against a smaller guard, he does very well.”
Kroener was the other Tomah player to reach double figures. He had 16.
Plueger said poor shooting allowed West Salem to make its second half run.
“We didn’t hit many perimeter shots, and we were getting wide-open looks,” Plueger said. “We must have missed 13 layups. We didn’t finish around the bucket very well.”
Another problem was foul shooting. The Timberwolves were 18-of-32 from the stripe and just eight-of-15 in the final 2½ minutes.
Tomah improved to 2-0 with the victory. Next is a nonconference home game Tuesday at 7:15 p.m. vs. Wisconsin Rapids. Then it’s 10 days off before the Mississippi Valley Conference opener at La Crosse Logan.
TOMAH 59 WEST SALEM 50
West Salem—Athnos 11, Foreman 10, Godlewski 8, Wakefield 19, Lattos 2.
Tomah—Gnewikow 9, Kroener 16, Gerke 4, Huneck 2, Brey 21, Shutter 7.
Three-point goals—Athnos 2, Wakefield 3, Gnewikow, Brey 2.