By Russ Pankonin
The Imperial Republican
For the second time in as many weeks, the Chase County Longhorns suffered the sting of another two point loss to the North Platte St. Pat’s Irish.
In the finals of the SPVA tournament, the Longhorns feel by two, 45-47.
Friday night, the Longhorns returned to North Platte, facing the Irish on their home floor, only to come up two points shy again, 48-50.
Coach Carl Zuege felt the third quarter proved to be the difference in the game.
In just 65 seconds midway in the third, the Longhorns went from trailing by five to trailing by 11.
By the end of the quarter, the Longhorns had whittled it back down to just four, 33-37, but were still playing catch-up.
Twice the Longhorns pulled to within one in the fourth. The first came on a trey by Jeff Dickey early in the quarter.
The second time came with 2:45 left when Isaac Sorensen converted a Travis Luhrs steal into a hoop, making the score 40-41.
Seven down to two
Over the next minute, the Irish opened up a 42-46 lead. Unable to the score, the Longhorns were forced to foul.
In 25 seconds, the Longhorns went from down four to down seven, 42-49, as St. Pat’s hit the front end of three one-and-ones.
With just :27.2 seconds left, the Longhorns showed some real muster. Ryan Moline hit a 3-pointer in another pressure situation, taking the score back to 45-49 with :18.8 left.
An immediate foul sent the Irish to the line, where they converted just one of two.
The Longhorns raced back down the court and found Luhrs who knocked down another 3 with :10.2. left, making the score 48-50.
The Longhorns fouled right away, sending the Irish back to the line with a chance to put it away with :08.7 left.
Fortunately for the Longhorns, the shooter bricked both throws. After grabbing the rebound, the Longhorns headed up court only to have St. Pat’s bat the ball out bounds in the frontcourt with 3.3 seconds left.
The Longhorns ran an inbounds play and got the ball to Luhrs, who got an open look at a 3 for the win.
His shot bounced off the rim and despite grabbing the rebound, the Longhorns couldn’t get off another shot before the buzzer sounded.
Zuege said he felt good about trying the trey for the win because he knew St. Pat’s would be packing it up tight in the lane. Luhrs got a good look but just couldn’t get it to fall, he said.
Looking back, Zuege said the Longhorns forced some shots in the closing minutes that didn’t fall.
Zuege said that’s something a team can’t get away with on the Irish’s home floor. It’s a tough place to go in and win anyway, without those miscues.
He added the Longhorns missed four to five shots from point black range that also would have made a difference.
In fact, the Longhorns shot 38 percent from 3-point range compared to 33 percent from 2-point range.
He said St. Pat’s didn’t give up anything inside but felt the Longhorns missed some key scoring opportunities.
Zuege did see some positive things out of the loss, especially with the offensive performance of Sorensen. He shared scoring honors with Kelton Fisher, each knocking down 11 points.
He said Kevin German came in to play some really good defense, disrupting the Irish attack.
Subdistricts coming up fast
Zuege said the Longhorns needed to get back on the court and take care of business because subdistricts aren’t far away.
Beginning with Tuesday’s game with Wauneta-Palisade, the Longhorns will play three times this week.
On Friday, they travel to Bayard and return home Saturday to play host to Hershey with jayvee action beginning at 3:30 p.m. MT.
Then, they have just four more practices before closing out the regular season at Sutherland next Friday, Feb. 21.
Barring any unforeseen losses, the Longhorns should garner the top seed in the C1-11
subdistrict which begins the week of Feb. 24.
2 PT. 3 PT. FT/
FG FG FTA F TP
Travis Luhrs 1 2 1-1 2 9
Ryan Moline 0 2 1-2 0 7
Kevin German 0 0 0-0 0 0
Dan Sullivan 0 0 0-0 3 0
Jeff Dickey 1 2 0-0 2 8
Kelton Fisher 5 0 1-2 4 11
Justus Wallin 0 0 0-0 1 0
Trey Milner 1 0 0-0 1 2
Isaac Sorensen 5 0 1-2 3 11
TOTALS 13 6 4-7 16 48
N.P. St. Pat’s 50
Bryce Byrn 13, Drew McClellen 5, Cory Clinch 2, Andrew O’Neill 13, Alex Harms 7, Mark Mayfield 10.
St. Pat’s totals: 2 pt. FG—11; 3 pt. FG—7; FT/FTA—7-14; Fouls—12; TP—50.
Points by quarters:
Imperial 8 9 16 15—48
St. Pat’s 9 8 20 13—50