Gage Robbins goes up for a basket in traffic during the second half of Phelps’ 60-59 loss to Crandon this past Friday. The loss was the first of the season for the Knights.
Gage Robbins goes up for a basket in traffic during the second half of Phelps’ 60-59 loss to Crandon this past Friday. The loss was the first of the season for the Knights.
To play 32 minutes of regulation, plus an additional five minutes of overtime only to have the game come down to the final shot is tough no matter what side of the outcome a team may be on.

As the winning shot for Crandon in overtime last Friday fell with no time left on the clock, it signaled a 60-59 win for the Cardinals.

It also signaled the end to one of the more impressive winning streaks the school has ever seen as fans need to go back over a year to find the last time the Phelps Knights boys basketball team lost inside the “castle.”

While the contest stopped a streak of 12 straight wins in the Northern Lakes Conference (NLC), it leaves Phelps still atop the league. Following a nonconference title with Mercer they’ll have two more tough contests on the road with Laona-Wabeno and Florence.

“We have to come back and get right after it,” head coach Chris Rader said. “We talked about it right away after the game. We won’t sit around and think about this one too much, because if we do nothing positive will come of it.”

Following his teams first loss of the year comes very little time to relax as one of the Knights’ most key stretches of the season inside the NLC is staring them right in the face.

“It’s a tough loss, but we have to learn from it, get better and move on,” he said. “The biggest game is the next game. It really doesn’t matter who we are matched up with next, we sit down, get to work and prepare like that is the most important one.”

The team heads to Mercer this week for a nonconference tilt with the Tigers. Following that they will head to Laona-Wabeno this Friday, and then hit the road to Florence next Tuesday before returning home a week from Friday when they host Three Lakes.

“I really don’t know if I can remember a stretch of games quite like we have upcoming,” said Rader. “Probably one of our most important stretches of games in a while.”

Phelps (5-1), Florence (4-1) and Laona-Wabeno (4-1) each rest with only one loss in league play with Crandon a half-game back at 4-2.

Friday’s loss

Looking back at Friday, both teams left opportunities on the table as Crandon managed to go just 3-of-12 at the free-throw line over the course of the game, while Phelps had an opportunity to put some space between them and the Cardinals in the extra period, but twice missed the front end of bonus free-throw opportunities which inevitably came back to haunt the Knights.

“Missing three free throws in overtime definitely hurt,” said Rader. “Tichenor for them is a good player. He had an effect on a number of shots.”

Down 12 with just over two minutes to go Phelps put a late charge together in regulation as a late Robbins’ three gave them a one point lead with under 30 seconds to play.

Crandon would tie it up and eventually send it to overtime, and with Robbins on the line with seven seconds left and Phelps up one, a miss led to a breakout for Stetson Flannery who would drop the game-winner just inside the free-throw line as time expired.

“I am a competitor, and I hate losing,” said Rader. “Whether it’s checkers or tic-tac-toe. But, you rarely see anyone go undefeated. We can learn some lessons, but we didn’t need to lose to accomplish that.

“The loss at home sort’ve hurt them. The streak doesn’t bother them, they just hate losing, period. At the end of the day it’s still just a loss.”

Crandon’s Blake Weber had a good offensive night as he led all the Cardinals with 24 on the evening.

Andrew Gill had a big evening for the Knights with 26 points to lead the way. Robbins added 10, Tony Gutierrez had nine and Carl Gutierrez had eight.