Saturday, February 11th, 2012
Wildcats win with Niemeyer's free throws
By Tom Montgomery
NEW KNOXVILLE - What started out as a mauling by Minster ended up playing out like The Showdown at the OK Corral.
The Wildcats gave up a big lead and then clawed back to gun down the New Knoxville Rangers 56-52 on Friday night in Midwest Athletic Conference play.
Minster rode Adam Niemeyer's hot free-throw shooting in the fourth quarter to nail down the victory in a hard-fought game by both squads. Niemeyer hit 8-of-9 at the free-throw line in the fourth quarter.
Three-pointers by Ryan Hoying and Devon Poeppelman staked Minster to an early 8-4 lead. Later in the opening quarter, Minster's Ethan Wolf hit from beyond the three-point arc and Doug Huber completed a conventional three-point play to spark an 8-0 run that had the visitors up 18-7 with 53 seconds left in the first quarter.
The second quarter saw the teams reverse roles, as New Knoxville discovered a rebounding advantage and got back into the game. Three-pointers by Lucas Leffel and Adam Howe cut the Rangers' deficit to three and a Leffel free throw made it 20-18 with 5:09 left in the first half.
Ryan Hoying's NBA distance trey made it 26-20 in favor of Minster before the Rangers went on a 7-0 run, sparked by another Leffel three-pointer, for a 27-26 lead. Brandon Hoying hit a three to put Minster back up 29-27 at the 1:20 mark the Rangers' Matteo Ceroni tied the score at 29-29 as the halftime buzzer sounded.
It was a slow offensive quarter for both teams in the third quarter. Another Leffel trey put his team ahead 36-33 at the 2:14 mark but Brandon Hoying answered from three-point range with 17 seconds left to make it 40-38 in favor of New Knoxville at the end of three quarters.
Then came a wild fourth quarter. A three-point play by Poeppelman brought Minster to within one, and Niemeyer hit the second of two free throws to tie the score at 44-all with 5:08 left to play.
New Knoxville's Ben Kuck made one-of-two at the free-throw line to put his team ahead 47-46 with 2:18 left before Poeppelman scored on a bunny to put Minster back up 48-47.
Minster's Austin Knapke hit a foul shot at the 1:02 mark to make it 49-47, before both teams began a scrum marked by rough play and surprisingly, no fouls called.
After Niemeyer hit a pair of charity tosses to seemingly ice the game at 51-47 with only 21.5 seconds left in the game, the Rangers' Jake Allen hit a jumper to pull his team back to within two.
Niemeyer again stepped to the free-throw line with 10.9 seconds left in the game and swished both attempts as the Wildcats went back up by four points. For good measure, Niemeyer stepped to the free-throw line a third time and drained both to make it 55-49 with 9.6 seconds to go.
The scrappy Rangers did not go away, as Allen hit a three-pointer to make it 55-52 with 3.2 seconds left. Niemeyer hit the second of two free throws to give Minster a four-point lead.
"It was a typical league night," said Minster's coach Mike Lee. "It wasn't pretty, but both teams competed hard. We got off to a good start, but they clawed back in.
"We got some good looks toward the end and never gave up," Lee continued. "We wanted Niemeyer to have the ball in his hands at the end and he started stringing them."