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The Daily



12-15-03: ’Riders, ’Cats get scrappy

Standard Correspondent

MINSTER — It was a fitting ending to an unusual and physical game.
With Minster leading 47-46 and 17 seconds left in the game, St. Marys set up for the go-ahead bucket. As Todd Graves brought the ball into the lane, it was slapped loose by Minster.
By the time all the bodies had finished scrambling for the ball, the clock had expired and the Wildcats had survived with a 47-46 victory.
“We really felt like we just had to get down there and defend,” stated Minster coach Mike Lee. “And it wasn’t pretty the last 15 seconds. There were bodies flying everywhere.”
The game started out ugly for the homestanding Wildcats. The Roughriders press forced three Minster turnovers in the first two minutes (10 overall in the quarter), and didn’t allow the first Minster basket until after four minutes of the game had expired. Scott Vossler scored eight of his game-high 25 points in the first quarter, leading St. Marys to a 12-6 advantage at the end of the period.
“How do you describe the first two minutes from our end of the floor?” wondered Lee. “A lot of that’s attributed to their aggressiveness. Credit goes to their kids. They’re just so athletic. With their quickness they can cover up a lot of spots.”
The second quarter wasn’t a lot prettier than the first. Minster closed the St. Marys’ lead to 21-18 thanks in part to two three-point baskets by Dane Sommer.
Two statistics best described the first half. Minster committed 16 turnovers compared to only seven by St. Marys, but the Wildcats countered by dominating the boards, pulling down 20 rebounds compared to just nine for the Roughriders.
“Usually we rebound better,” explained St. Marys coach Josh Leslie. “We just weren’t finding a body, we were just turning and going for it. Minster has some big kids at the rack.”
Minster seemed to solve the St. Marys pressure in the third quarter. Alex Stricker contributed four baskets, usually while driving to the basket after breaking the press. Josh Boeke added two buckets and Jake Luttmer banked in a three-pointer as the buzzer sounded, giving the Wildcats a 33-29 lead at the end of the third quarter.
Minster stretched the lead to 41-33 halfway through the fourth quarter before the Roughriders launched their desperate comeback.
Nick Yahl twice made baskets to cut the deficit to four points. Scott Vossler then scored three baskets in the final two minutes to reduce the Wildcats lead to 47-46. After Minster missed the front end of a one-and-one, St. Marys had its final opportunity which ended in the scrum on the floor as time expired.
“We made a couple of mistakes down the stretch and I told our kids we have to learn from that,” added Lee. “We missed on a one-and-one with 30 seconds left and that’s how you allow a good team like St. Marys to get that last opportunity.”
“Our kids could have just given up (when down by eight points late),” complimented Leslie. “But Nick Yahl comes in and gives us a nice lift, makes some baskets and gets after the ball.
“When you play good teams it is going to come down to one or two possessions,” concluded Leslie.
Minster’s overall record rises to 2-1. The Wildcats return to action Friday night when they host Coldwater. St. Marys falls to 2-2 and next plays at Defiance on Friday.


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