By Ryan Hines
MINSTER -- The Minster Wildcats have had their fair share of close games over the first eight games of the season and they played like it on Friday night.
Coldwater led by six points with 1:19 left in the game, but Minster made enough plays down the stretch to pull out a 61-60 victory over the Cavaliers in a Midwest Athletic Conference showdown.
"We've definitely been down this road many a time already and we aren't even at the midway point of the season," said Minster coach Mike Lee. "I commend our kids for this win because we were down six with under two minutes to play. We've played in games like this already this year and everybody just stepped up. I was just good to see some things fall our way in the end.
"It's tough to be sitting in that locker room over there (referring to Coldwater's locker room) because we've been on that end already too," continued Lee. "It was your typical Friday night league game."
Jimmy Stechschulte made the biggest play of all hitting what proved to be the game-winning shot with just 3.2 seconds left on the clock. Stechschulte, Minster's point guard, drove hard through the lane, pulled up after a convincing head fake for a short jumper that rattled home to give the Wildcats a one-point advantage.
"We were trying to pound the ball inside, but our kids recognized that Coldwater was packing it in and Jimmy was able to get in the lane and I think that it was an advantage for him that he was going in left-handed (Stechschulte is left-handed) because I think that he could dip in there further. He just hit a big shot."
"That was a great shot by Stechschulte," said Coldwater coach Mike Kanney. "We talked to the kids about not allowing a good look and don't leave your feet, but we got out of balance there and he got the shot off. that was a big shot. I thought that they would try to pound it in to their big guys he (Stechschulte) just made a nice play."
Stechschulte, who finished with five points, was confident enough to take the big shot despite having four other players on the floor that had already scored double digits in the game.
Zac Boeke hit three treys on the way to leading all scorers for Minster (5-4, 2-1 MAC) with 16 points while Andy Beckman and Max Phlipot each had 13 points to go along with Logan Sommer's 12 markers. Beckman also had a game-high 12 rebounds while Sommer added seven caroms.
Mike Lefeld led Coldwater (2-4, 1-2 MAC) with 12 points and Brady Geier had 11 points while Aaron Evers and Trent Brunswick hit for 10 apiece.
Coldwater led 58-52 with 1:19 left on the clock before Minster fired back with five quick points, two from Beckman and a three from Boeke, to close the Cavaliers's lead to 58-57 with 47 ticks left on the clock.
A pair of free throws from Lefeld lifted the Cavaliers to a three-point advantage at 60-57 but Sommer hit a deuce to make it a one-point game again with 33.3 seconds left on the clock.
The Cavaliers had a chance to make it a three-point game again, but Ryan Geier missed two crucial free throws giving the ball back to Minster setting up Stechschulte's heroics.
Missing free throws came back to haunt Coldwater as the Cavaliers hit just 8-of-17 in the game.
"Our kids gave a great effort here tonight against a good Minster team," pointed out Kanney. "We didn't execute at the end of the game and they were able to hit some big shots. We missed free throws that we should have made. Great basketball game, but you have to make free throws to win."
Despite the missed free throws, Coldwater still had a chance to win the game with 3.2 ticks left on the clock.
Cory Klenke passed inbounds to a streaking Lefeld who passed off to Evers on the baseline and his shot was off the mark sealing the Minster win.
Minster is back in action tonight on the road at Fort Loramie while Coldwater will welcome Elida to The Palace.