Saturday, February 2nd, 2008
By Randy Bruns
Nerderman hits game-winner for Minster
MARIA STEIN - The Minster Wildcats didn't have to play a perfect game to beat the Marion Local Flyers Friday night at The Hangar, but they did have to play their game and they did it to perfection.
The underdog Wildcats slowed down the pace of the game to stay in the thick of things and they capitalized in the clutch to down the Flyers by a score of 43-41.
Keith Nerderman played hero in the game's waning moments, as he stuck back a rebound from point blank range with just over one second left in the game to give the visitors a much needed conference win.
With the win, Minster raises its record to 7-8 overall and 2-5 in the Midwest Athletic Conference, while Marion falls to 11-4 on the year and suffered its first league loss to drop to 6-1 in the MAC.
The Wildcats set the tone early by utilizing a patient offense that waited for open shots against the Flyers' zone. More often than not, those shots were from long range, and the visitors cashed in by hitting four-of-seven from behind the three-point arc in the first half.
Meanwhile, the Flyers were in a drought from three-land, missing their first five attempts. Only after falling behind 18-9 early in the second quarter did the Flyers start attacking, and they responded with an 11-2 run over the final five minutes to force a 20-20 tie at halftime.
The second half was a dogfight the whole way, as neither team led by more than five points. Minster cooled off a little from the perimeter and instead tried their luck inside the paint. Though they weren't always successful, they gave themselves plenty of second chances.
Sam Otting in particular did yeoman's works inside, as the six-foot junior battled Marion's tall trees successfully in the paint.
The Flyers took their last lead with three minutes left on a bunny by Jordan Winner, but Otting answered quickly on an inbounds play to put the Wildcats back up by one. Alex Moeller later hit a free throw to tie things with 31 ticks left, and the Wildcats held for a final shot.
Logan Sommer attempted a shot in heavy traffic with a few seconds left, and after bouncing off the rim, the ball fell into the waiting hands of Nerderman, who banked it in to set off pandemonium in the visitors' section.
Minster coach Mike Lee, whose team has endured an uncharacteristic down year, was proud that his squad battled for a tough win.
"You just keep plugging away and hopefully things will start to go your way," said Lee, who notched his seventh win in The Hangar against just one loss. "Our margin for error throughout the course of the season has not been very wide, and sometimes when you go bad in one or two areas things just snowball. This was just one game, but if you can win on the road against a quality team like Marion, it makes you happy for your team."
Marion coach Keith Westrick lamented the fact that Minster was able to dictate the pace of play.
"The whole game was played at the speed that Minster wanted to play at," said Westrick. "We tried to get some transition chances to speed things up, but in order to do that you've got to get rebounds or make stops, and we weren't able to do that. They played at their tempo and we struggled to score against their half-court defense and ended up losing."
Despite being undersized, the Wildcats actually won the battle of the boards by pulling down 27 caroms to 24 for the Flyers. More telling was the fact that the visitors managed to collect 11 offensive rebounds in the second half, the last of which won the game for them.
"Marion's big and physical and you're not going to get many clean looks at the basket," said Lee. "We were undersized at a lot of spots, so this was a perfect example of our kids plugging away. We just kept telling them to find a hole and maybe get a tip or a deflection to get the ball back in our hands."
Westrick saw some uneasy irony in the fact that his team lost in part due to a key offensive rebound by Minster.
"I guess when you give up 11 offensive rebounds in the game it's only fitting that you lose a game because of one of them," said Westrick.
Nerderman and Otting paced the Wildcats with 12 and 10 points, respectively, while Chris Stucke led the Flyers with 12 and Winner contributed 11.
Marion doesn't get much time to lick its wounds before returning to action tonight at Wapakoneta. Minster next plays on Tuesday when it travels to Jackson Center.
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