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Saturday, January 28th, 2012

Cardinals win on Bornhorst's free throws

By Randy Bruns

Marion Local's Marcus Prenger, left, Lee Pierron, middle front, and Craig Niekam. . .

MARIA STEIN - Clutch free throw shooting down the stretch made the difference for the New Bremen Cardinals Friday night at the Hangar, which was quite an accomplishment considering lousy free throw shooting earlier on almost cost them the game.
The Cardinals' Derek Bornhorst sank a pair from the stripe with six seconds left to help his team defeat the Marion Local Flyers by a score of 48-47 in an exciting Midwest Athletic Conference tilt.
With the win, New Bremen raised its season record to 9-4 and its MAC ledger to 4-1, while Marion fell to 5-6 overall and 1-3 in league play.
The Cardinals connected on seven of their final ten free tosses after undergoing a brutal 0-for-8 stretch late in the third and early in the fourth. The problem for the Flyers was that they could not take advantage of the visitors' poor marksmanship from the stripe.
Marion held a 40-39 lead late in the third when New Bremen missed three straight two-shot opportunities from the line. Kellen Goettemoeller then helped the hosts build their lead when he canned a pair of charity chucks, and Marion went into the fourth quarter holding a 42-39 advantage, their largest lead of the night.
As for the final frame, no offense to either squad, but there was no offense from either squad. Though Elliott Westerbeck broke the Cardinals' free throw skid by hitting a pair at the five minute mark, neither team could muster a field goal until Aaron Clune scored on a layup that gave the visitors a 43-42 lead with three minutes left.
The lead see-sawed from there before Craig Niekamp drilled a pair of free throws that gave the Flyers a 47-46 lead with 37 seconds left. The Cardinals then held the ball for a good shot and Clune got a nice look from behind the three-point arc that didn't fall, but Bornhorst rebounded and was fouled.
After the senior canned the final two free throws the Flyers had time to get the ball up court, but Niekamp's rushed runner at the buzzer banged harmlessly off the glass.
"I thought we put a good stroke on (the free throws) most of the night but they just wouldn't fall," said New Bremen's coach Adam Dougherty. "I guess we were saving them for next week because we might need them then."
Even without the frigid free throw shooting, Dougherty saw his club struggle mightily to score late in the game.
"At one point I think we went 20 possessions without getting a bucket, and most of the credit for that goes to (Marion)," said Dougherty. "They do a great job defensively, and I thought we were getting good looks but not great looks. Our kids were just resilient. We've been asking for them all year to fight back when shots aren't going in, and when our backs were against it tonight we decided to bear down and grind our teeth and get it done."
Like the Cardinals, the Flyers also went through long stretches without putting points on the board, much to the dismay of Marion's coach Kurt Goettemoeller.
"We had two long scoring droughts tonight," commented Goettemoeller. "In the first quarter we went up 9-2 but then we started turning it over and that allowed them to kind of hang around. Then in the fourth we seized the momentum and got a three point lead but we could just never build on it. We were doing a great job defensively because they weren't scoring, but we could never create a gap to get a stronger lead."
Bornhorst led the Cardinals with 19 points, while Niekamp paced the Flyers with 13 and Goettemoeller added 10.
Marion returns to action at home tonight when Franklin Monroe comes calling at the Hangar, while New Bremen is off until next Friday when they will entertain Delphos St. John's.
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