LITTLE CHUTE - If there's any hope for another Eastern Valley Conference boys basketball team to stop Little Chute's quest for four straight league titles, Thursday night's performance against Xavier didn't offer much hope.
The Mustangs started slow, trailed 17-6 and it appeared the Hawks were going to be quite the challenge for Little Chute.
As it turned out, that start was a mirage, because for the rest of the first half and the start of the third quarter Little Chute put on a display that was incredible.
The Mustangs did more than erase the 11-point deficit, they blew it up. Little Chute authored a 42-6 run and led 48-23 early in the third quarter. The top-ranked team in the FOX 11 Top 11 poll coasted from there and put away the Hawks, 67-53, to run its record to 5-0 on the season.
"Xavier was ready to go," Little Chute coach Mickey Martin said. "I think their quickness hurt us a little bit. They ran a couple nice sets, caught us on a couple back-door plays to start the game and that energized their team. They had us on our heels."
Maybe but it didn't last long. Little Chute awoke from its slumber and showed the standing-room only crowd why the Mustangs are a favorite to win the Division 3 state title.
Little Chute does have University of Wisconsin-Green Bay recruits Turner Botz and Kenneth Lowe and they are worth the price of admission, but that's not all the Mustangs have. During Little Chute's 33-6 run to end the second quarter, the Mustangs displayed how good they can be.
Jed Albers scored seven straight points at one point, hanging around the perimeter and receiving passes from Lowe who was drawing the defense's attention in the post. And point guard Mitch Ciske got going in the second quarter and closed it out with a fadeaway 3-pointer at the second-quarter buzzer to give the Mustangs a 39-23 lead.
"That's huge," Martin said of his team getting production from all over. "We shared the ball well tonight and found the open guy. That was huge.
"We got a couple shots to go down, found the open guy and built on it. I didn't realize it was that big of a run. We were playing pretty good ball there in the second quarter."
Little Chute scored the first nine points of the third quarter to make it a 42-6 run and a 48-23 lead. Xavier once thought about a huge upset and now was just trying to survive.
"We started well and our defense was really solid," Xavier coach Matt Klarner said. "I think in the second quarter they hit a couple shots and they spread us out a little bit. Once you get spread out against these guys you're kind of against their mercy.
"They have so much size and athleticism inside. We talked about not having breakdowns and we had that in the second quarter and that was the difference in the game."
Martin thought his defense was also a key. Xavier got easy baskets early against Little Chute's man-to-man defense so Martin switched to a 2-3 zone with the 6-foot-8 Lowe occupying the middle.
Xavier couldn't figure out the Mustangs' zone, which along with Lowe had the 6-6 Botz and 6-5 Tyler Job.
"I thought our 2-3 was good," Martin said. "With Lowe in the middle, it makes it tougher. I thought it was a key to our win."
Thursday's game was the first meeting of the teams since last postseason where Xavier won at Little Chute, but had the win taken away because Xavier used an ineligible player. The ineligible player was discovered by Little Chute and only mentioned after Xavier won the game.
It created a firestorm between the schools, but Thursday there was no sign of that controversy.
"We've moved on," Martin said. "Nobody around here talks about it much. It was nice to get this game in and get it out of the way and we can move on."
And for future Little Chute opponents, beware. The Mustangs have high expectations and so far they have been met. Little Chute disposed of Division 4's top-ranked team, Dominican, by 22 points in the second game of the season and the Mustangs have won games by scoring margins of 25, 22, 12, 24 and 14 points, respectively.
Martin said the win over Dominican has been an influence.
Said Martin: "I think it's carried over a little bit."
- 3-pointers: Little Chute had four players score in double figures, led by Lowe and Botz, who each scored 16 points. ... Xavier was paced by Brady Johnson's 13 points. ... The teams combined to hit 16 3-pointers.
- Game ball: Lowe, who's presence on both ends of the court was huge.
- Numbers game: 36 Points Little Chute outscored Xavier by in the game's deciding run.
(1) LITTLE CHUTE 67, XAVIER 53
Xavier.............17 6 16 14 — 53
Little Chute.....13 26 16 12 — 67
Xavier: Sawatsky 5, Ferris10, Ellis 2, B.Johnson 13, Lenz 9, Maertz 10, T.Johnson 4. Totals: 17 10-17 53. 3-pointers: 9 (Ferris 2, B.Johnson 4, Lenz, Maertz, T.Johnson). Fouls: 14. Record: 1-5, 1-3.
Little Chute: Ciske 5, Albers 12, Botz 16, Hawley 11, Job 7, Lowe 16. Totals: 27 6-9 67. 3-pointers: 7 (Albers 2, Botz 2, Hawley 2, Ciske). Fouls: 15. Record: 5-0, 3-0.
Follow Doug Ritchay on Twitter @dougritchay
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