Ice cold.

That’s the only way to describe the first 32 minutes of the Tomah Timberwolves’ offense Friday. Their offense finally achieved liftoff in the final four minutes, but it was too late to prevent a 57-50 loss to La Crosse Aquinas in a Mississippi Valley Conference boys basketball contest at Tomah High School.

Tomah fell to 2-8 overall and 0-4 in the MVC.

Timberwolves coach Brad Plueger said errant shooting played a big role in the loss. He said shooting “is the name of the game in basketball − if you can put the ball in the basket, you’re going to play.”

Tomah scored just one field goal in the first 13 ½ minutes of the second half and trailed 52-35 with 4:13 left.

That’s when the Timberwolves − mostly Kade Gnewikow and Dustin Derousseau − suddenly got hot. They accounted for Tomah’s last 11 points.

Derousseau scored on a give-and-go layup from Isaiah Nick with 38 seconds left to cut Aquinas’ lead to 56-50. After the Blugolds missed two foul shots, Gnewikow launched a promising 3-pointer from the top of the key with 16 seconds left. The shot, however, rimmed off, and Aquinas corralled the rebound to seal the outcome.

If cold shooting was the problem in the second half, turnovers were the problem before halftime. After Derousseau hit a 3-pointer to give Tomah an early 12-6 lead, the Timberwolves committed three straight turnovers, which triggered a 15-2 Aquinas run.

Tomah finished the contest shooting 36 percent from the field and made just five of 21 3-point attempts.

Plueger said the Timberwolves didn’t adjust to Aquinas’ defense.

“We’re just reacting; we’re not reading anything,” Plueger said. “They need to start reading.”

Gnewikow led the offense with 16 points, six assists and four rebounds. He was seven of eight from the foul line.

Derousseau came off the bench to score 12 points, and Carson Lindauer came off the bench to lead Tomah in rebounding with seven.

Aquinas’ Brandon Merfeld led all scorers with 18 points.

The Blugolds were 22 of 38 from the foul line.

The Timberwolves host Portage in a nonconference matchup Tuesday. The varsity reserve game is 5:45 p.m. followed by the varsity at 7:15 p.m.

Tomah returns to MVC action with a Thursday, Jan. 17 trip to La Crosse Central. The Red Raiders are ranked second in Division 2.

Tomah Journal editor Steve Rundio can be reached at steve.rundio@lee.net.

LA CROSSE AQUINAS 57 TOMAH 50

La Crosse Aquinas—Wetzel 8, Merfeld 18, Everson 6, Jo. Salvodelli 2, Skemp 5, Ja. Salvodelli 14, Lee 4.

Tomah—Gnewikow 15, Lindauer 2, Derousseau 12, M. Gerke 5, Nick 11, Ella 5.

Three-point goals—Merfeld 3, Everson 2, Gnewikow, Derousseau 3, M. Gerke.

Aquinas;33;24−57

Tomah;25;25−50

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Tomah Journal editor

Steve Rundio is editor of the Tomah Journal. Contact him at 608-374-7785.

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