WATERTOWN — Two weeks ago, Watertown began the season with a humbling loss to Lake Mills. Fort Atkinson played Lake Mills on Tuesday and lost by a more respectable 46-39 score.
The common opponents factor didn’t come into play on Friday night.
Watertown caught fire offensively in the first half and the fire continued to spread after halftime as the Goslings ran away with a 75-54 victory over the visiting Blackhawks in a Badger South boys basketball game.
The two teams staged a good offensive duel over the first 15 minutes. The Goslings hit eight 3-pointers in the first half alone and finished with 11 on the night.
Sophomore guard Oliver Meyers hit back-to-back 3-pointers to turn a 14-9 deficit into a 15-14 lead for Watertown. He finished the half with four triples to account for 12 of his 14 points. Senior point guard Cade Oiler flashed three digits three times for nine of his 11 first half points and finished with 15. Senior guard Derek Rowedder hit the other two 3s from the right corner and poured in all eight of his points in the opening half.
Fort Atkinson (1-3, 0-2 in conference) countered with seven first-half points from sophomore guard Carson Baker and seven from junior forward Greyson Wixom. Seven Blackhawks scored in the first half and the team went 6-for-6 from the foul line.
Wixom and senior post Caleb Haffelder each converted three-point plays in the early going and the Blackhawks took their final lead of the night when Baker converted a steal to put Fort up 33-32 with 3 minutes, 8 seconds left in the first half.
Watertown (2-2, 2-0) closed the half on a 7-0 run and never looked back. Senior guard Payton Foltz broke up a fast break the other way, and passed the ball off to senior forward Michael Kuckkan, who found senior guard Deon Nailing for an easy layup. Oiler drained a 3 with 2 minutes to go in the half and sophomore forward Nathan Gapinski finished a lob inside with 1:31 to go to send the Goslings into the break leading 39-33.
“We were able to stay with them when they got hot,” Fort Atkinson coach Mike Hintz said. “Half of their 3s, we had hands in their faces. The other half were off of miscommunication, so give credit to them for knocking some shots down. But I thought we stayed with them until the last four possessions of the first half, when we just refused to execute the way we did the first however many possessions we had to start the half. Then we made some adjustments at halftime that we didn’t follow through on and the floodgates opened.”
Nailing and Gapinski each went off in the second half as the lead quickly reached double figures and stayed that way. Nailing opened the second half with a 3-pointer from the corner and scored 13 of his 15 points down the stretch. Gapinski scored 10 of his game-high 16 points after halftime. He scored three times in the lane in the opening minutes and converted a steal with 12:41 remaining as the lead swelled to 58-39.
The Blackhawks kept after it, scoring second chance points and capitalizing on three steals in the waning minutes. Sophomore guard Cade Cosson scored 10 of his 14 points in the second half. Wixom finished with 11.
“We’re four games in,” Hintz said. “This is finally the kid we saw all last year and this summer. (Cosson) finally got the rust off and that’s a positive. I thought Jackson Fenner played really well, so that will be rewarded. Drew Evans, first time starting, I thought he did a lot of positive things for us in the limited minutes he was able to play. When we get into having to press and run, he unfortunately doesn’t become that big of a factor for us, because that’s a big boy to move around. Logan Kees bounced back after his last game, so that’s a positive.
“There were a lot of positives. I told the guys we’re not going to have a conversation until after we watch the film. If it comes down to us missing bunnies and wide open looks and they hit their 3s, we know we had some execution issues. We know we had some communication issues, but I don’t want to overstate it. This is a great group.
“The thing that concerns me is the team we saw on the court is not the team we saw in practice, from an energy standpoint and a communication standpoint.
“I don’t know if it’s because it was a long week, the turnaround with us playing Saturday, Tuesday and Friday. We’ve got a lot of things we need to assess with our games. We don’t have much time. We have Milton on Tuesday. We need to have a very short memory. We need to go down there and try to get back on track and try to play basketball the way we are capable of playing.”
WATERTOWN 75, FORT ATKINSON 54
Blackhawks 33 23 — 56
Goslings 39 36 — 75
Fort Atkinson (fg-ft-pts) — Fenner 1-0-3, Glisch 1-0-2, Baker 3-0-7, Klingbeil 1-0-3, Cosson 7-0-14, Haffelder 2-3-7, Wixom 4-3-11, Evans 2-0-4, Kees 2-0-5 Totals 23 6-6 56
Watertown (fg-ft-pts) — Oiler 5-2-15, Meyers 5-0-14, Foltz 1-1-3, Nailing 6-1-15, Gapinski 6-4-16, Rowedder 3-0-8, Kuckkan 1-0-2, Crogan 1-0-2 Totals 28 8-8 75
3-point goals — FA (Fenner 1, Baker 1, Klingbeil 1, Kees 1), W (Oiler 3, Meyers 4, Nailing 2, Rowedder 2). Total fouls — FA 10, W 9.