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Saturday, February 16th, 2008

McCollum hits trey at the buzzer in win for New Bremen

By Ryan Hines

New Bremen's Justin Eilerman, 34, tries shooting over Minster's Sam Otting, 50,. . .

NEW BREMEN - There's no better way to walk off the floor in the final home game of a high school career than the way New Bremen's Matt McCollum did on Friday night at Cardinal Gymnasium.
McCollum drilled a three-pointer at the buzzer to lift New Bremen to a 47-45 victory over archrival Minster in the final game of the regular season for both teams.
"It's a heckuva way for a senior to walk off his home floor for the last time in his career," said New Bremen head coach Mike Ernst about McCollum's game-winning basket. "I told him that it's something that he will remember for the rest of his life. It was an exciting way to win."
New Bremen (12-8, 3-6 Midwest Athletic Conference) was down by one point, at 45-44, with 5.3 seconds to play when Minster's Brian Mueller stepped to the line to shoot two free throws with a chance to give the Wildcats a three-point lead.
Muller missed the first free throw and Minster head coach Mike Lee called timeout to discuss strategy before the second free-throw was attempted.
Lee decided to have Mueller miss the second free throw on purpose and put the outcome of the game in the hands of the Wildcats' defense.
"Believe it or not, we tried to miss the free throw and when they fumbled the rebound, they had the ball at our free-throw line with around three seconds left on the clock and I thought that we were in good shape," said Lee. "But, McCollum was left open on the wing and they did a good job of pushing the ball up the floor and finding the open man and he did a good job of hitting the biggest shot of the night with a pretty clean look at the basket at the buzzer.
"I didn't want to take a chance on making the second free throw and then giving them five seconds to take the ball out of bounds and throwing a long pass to 6-9 Schnelle on the other side of the floor," added Lee. "We didn't want to take a chance on Schnelle getting the ball in a sweet spot on the floor with a chance to win the game on a long inbounds pass."
Mueller's second free throw kicked off the rim and New Bremen's Scott Schnelle nearly fumbled the rebound out of bounds before saving it to a teammate. The ball went to New Bremen's Andy Timmerman, who pushed the ball quickly up the floor with time ticking away. Timmerman found an open McCollum on the right wing with just over a second left to play and the Cardinals' senior forward took a quick look at the clock before firing a three-pointer that hit nothing but the bottom of the net for the New Bremen win.
"I can't think of a better way to walk off the home floor for the last time," said McCollum. "Andy got the ball up the floor as quickly as he could and gave me a good pass chest-high and I was able to make the shot. I had an open lane to the basket when I caught it, but I looked at the clock and it only had like 1.2 seconds left on it or something, so I knew that I had to pull up and get it off as quickly as possible."
"We didn't have any timeouts and we had Matt run down on one side of the floor and Marcus Bergman on the other side of the floor with Scott (Schnelle) going to the basket and we wanted to get what we could get," said Ernst. "Once he missed the second free throw, it was kind of like a jailbreak to get down the floor. We bobbled the rebound and I thought that was going to prevent us from getting any kind of a decent shot. Five seconds is a long time and our kids did a good job of keeping their composure and just beat the horn."
It was the third trey of the game for McCollum who finished with 11 points on the night for the Cardinals. Schnelle led New Bremen with 12 points and a game-high 10 rebounds.
Keith Nerderman led all scorers for Minster with 13 points while Logan Sommer and Sam Otting hit for 12 and 11 points, respectively.
Minster outscored New Bremen 13-3 at the charity stripe in the game, but the Wildcats were just 2-for-9 from the free-throw line in the final quarter after making their first eight free tosses of the game.
The Wildcats won't have to wait long to try and get revenge on New Bremen as Minster meets the Cardinals on Tuesday night at Coldwater in Division IV sectional semifinal action at The Palace.
"I told the kids that there aren't many times where you can get a reprieve, but we have that chance on Tuesday when we play them again in tournament play," said Lee. "We get a second chance at them and it will be a backyard brawl once again I'm surre."
NOTE - Schnelle was one of 1,500 boys basketball players across the nation that was nominated to play in the McDonald's All-American high school basketball All-Star game. Schnelle won't be playing in the game, but he's the first New Bremen player to ever be nominated to play in the prestigeous All-Star game.
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