|Longhorns a basket shy of SPVA title|
By Russ Pankonin
The Imperial Republican
The Chase County Longhorns’ quest for an SPVA conference title came up a basket short Saturday night, falling to North Platte St. Pat’s in the final 45-47.
Despite three turnovers in the final 1:20, the Longhorns still managed to get off a long 3-pointer in the final four seconds that would have given them the win.
The Longhorns came into the title game with a 12-4 mark, looking to add a second loss to 14-1 record of the St. Pat’s Irish.
The Longhorns got to the finals with wins over Hershey and Kimball in the first two rounds.
After an opening trey by the Irish, the Longhorns ran off seven straight and led 14-10 after the first quarter.
Travis Luhrs opened the lead to six to open the scoring in the second half. But from there, the guns went silent.
Over the next five minutes, the Longhorns couldn’t take care of the ball, missing out on scoring opportunities. The Irish capitalized, going on a 11-2 run to take a 21-18 lead over the Longhorns.
After scoring just seven points in the second quarter, the Longhorns found themselves down 21-26 going into halftime.
Twice in the third, 3-pointers by Jeff Dickey brought the Longhorns within one but they were never able to recapture the lead. At the end of three, they trailed 34-38.
Longhorns pull within one
The Irish opened the scoring in the fourth to go up six before Dickey got back-to-back lay-ups. With 5:00 left, Dickey’s scores brought the Longhorns within two, 38-40.
The Longhorns’ tenacious defense inside caused the Irish to miss three bunnies before finally getting one for a 38-42 advantage.
Dickey dropped a pair of threes to pull back within two.
With 1:52 left, the Irish hit a free throw that was answered by a put-back inside by Justus Wallin. His basket pulled the Longhorns within one, 42-43 with 1:40 left.
A crucial turnover at the 1:20 mark led to a string of two more turnovers in the final minute.
With Dickey tied up by the Irish defense and a five-count underway, Coach Carl Zuege yelled several times for a time-out but couldn’t get it.
The Longhorns nearly forced an Irish turnover but instead drew a foul. St. Pat’s dropped both tosses with :49 left for 42-45 lead.
Zuege called a time-out to regroup with :31.5 left but a traveling call turned the ball over to the Irish.
The Longhorns let about 10 seconds go off the clock before fouling. With :19.8 left, the Irish hit one of two to go up 42-46.
Another turnover under the Longhorn basket and subsequent foul gave St. Pat’s two more tries to put the game away with :12.8 left. Fortunately for the Longhorns, they missed both free throws.
Zuege called another time-out to set up a play for Ryan Moline to get off a trey. He drained it :05 left to pull the Longhorns back to within one, 45-46.
Zuege used another time-out to make sure his kids fouled as soon as the ball came onto the court.
So with :04 left, St. Pat’s went to the line one more time, making the second of two for a 45-47 lead.
This time St. pat’s called time-out, giving Zuege a chance to set up another play to get the ball to Dickey for a 3-pointer.
Dickey got the ball near mid-court and got off a 25-footer that bounced off the front of the rim, sealing the Longhorns’ fate, 45-47.
Still had a shot to win
Zuege said that, despite not playing as well Saturday, they still had a shot to win the game. “We got the shot we wanted,” he said. It just didn’t fall.
This marks the second consecutive year the Longhorns went to the SPVA finals. Last year, they fell to St. Pat’s in the title game.
Zuege credited Dickey for keeping the Longhorns in the game in the fourth quarter. “We needed that from Jeff,” he said.
He said Wallin battled hard inside all night and came up with a crucial basket on the put-back with 1:40 left.
For the second week, Moline drained another trey to pull the Longhorns within one. Zuege said Moline’s hit some big shots late in several games and is really growing as a player.
Dickey led the team in scoring with 17 with Wallin adding 12. They each added six rebounds to pace the team.
After shooting 47 percent against Kimball in the semi-finals, the Longhorns could only manage 38 percent against St. Pat’s.
The Longhorns fared well at the line, going 7-10, but sent St. Pat’s to the line 24 times, making 15. In the fourth quarter, they keep the Longhorns in the game, missing seven of 12.
Unfortunately, the other five were enough to pull down the win.
The Longhorns bounced back Tuesday night with a win over 8-2 Haxtun.
They’re off until next Tuesday when they play host to Wray, Colo. On Friday, Feb. 7, they travel back to North Platte for a re-match with St. Pat’s.
2 PT. 3 PT. FT/
FG FG FTA F TP
Travis Luhrs 1 1 0-0 5 5
Ryan Moline 0 1 0-0 0 3
Kevin German 0 0 0-0 0 0
Dan Sullivan 0 0 0-0 2 0
Jeff Dickey 4 2 3-4 4 17
Kelton Fisher 2 0 2-2 3 6
Justus Wallin 5 0 2-3 1 12
Trey Milner 1 0 0-1 3 2
Isaac Sorensen 0 0 0-0 1 0
TOTALS 13 4 7-10 19 45
N.P. St. Pat’s 47
Bryce Byrn 8, Drew McClellen 4, Cory Clinch 7, Andrew O’Neill 12, Alex Harms 8, Mark Mayfield 8.
St. Pat’s totals: 2 pt. FG—13; 3 pt. FG—2; FT/FTA—15-24; Fouls—13; TP—47.
Points by quarters:
Imperial 14 7 13 11—45