Luck of the Irish claims 49-46 win
A defensive lapse and a plan in the last 25 seconds that didn’t quite work led to a 49-46 Gothenburg loss Thursday at the hands of the North Platte St. Patrick.
Leading 31-22 with under four minutes remaining in the third period, Gothenburg gave up seven straight baskets and nine consecutive points to Mark Mayfield and trailed 36-35 going into the final stanza.
After the Swedes regained the advantage 41-38, treys by Irish shooters Andrew O’Neill and Mayfield surged the Irish ahead 46-43.
St. Pat’s stalled for more than a minute until Mayfield was fouled and sent to the free throw line.
Converting one of two, Gothenburg rebounded the ball and Tanner Borchardt was fouled and sent to the line with 47 seconds left on the clock.
Calm and cool Borchardt knocked both shots down and the Swedes trailed by one 47-46.
Twenty-two seconds later Mayfield was back on the line and Gothenburg called a timeout.
“We were drawing up an offensive plan but more importantly I wanted to ice their shooter a little bit,” head coach Roger Koehler said.
The plan worked initially. The Swedes snagged the rebound and advanced the ball into the front court and took a timeout with 8.8 seconds remaining in regulation.
“We talked about getting a pick and roll set up to utilize the quickness of Dawson (Graham) and the size of Tanner,” Koehler said.
Unfortunately, St. Pat’s defenders were pushing the Swedes completely to the sideline and a pass went out of bounds with seven ticks on the clock.
On the inbound pass, Mayfield was fouled and stepped to the line with yelling and rumbling bleachers echoing through the gym.
“We love when students and fans get into the game like that,” Koehler said. “It is a fun environment for the kids and for the fans to be a part of.”
Mayfield missed them both but Alex Harms grabbed the rebound for the Irish and went to the line again and sank both foul shots extending the Irish lead to three, 49-46, with two seconds left.
The ensuing inbound pass hit a hanging net and forced the ball back to St. Pats who secured the win with a successful inbound pass.
“We were in a position to win that game and we didn’t get it done,” Koehler said.
Although the Class D-1 No. 4-ranked Irish won the game, Gothenburg led for most of the contest before losing.
The Swedes’ record is now 2-3 on the young season.
Koehler said he felt both teams knew how the other one wanted to play and were feeling each other out in the first quarter.
After one period, the Swedes led 8-5 with six points coming from Blake Ristine.
With the defense focused on Borchardt, who was coming off a career-high scoring game, Ristine and company looked more aggressive.
“Blake played well,” Koehler said. “He is starting to get into basketball mode.”
Gothenburg went to the locker room leading the Irish 20-14 and the message from Koehler was to limit the opponents run in the second half, he said.
“In most of our games this season we have given up a run in the second half,” Koehler said. “The last thing I addressed was starting with a burst and extending our lead, which we did.”
Gothenburg gained a nine-point lead before the Irish came fighting back.
Koehler was satisfied with the matchups created during the course of the game and thought the Swedes played well.
“We’re improving. Even though we lost that was probably our best game of the season,” Koehler said. “We didn’t want Mayfield or Bryce Burn to get open looks from three and for the most part they didn’t.”
With Dawson Graham and Collin Hahn seeing increased action in the past few games, Koehler expects them to perform.
“They are freshman in the sense that they are still learning our stuff,” Koehler said. “Both have played a lot of basketball and give us some scoring potential.”
High scorer for the Swedes was Borchardt with 12 points and Ristine added 10.
Mayfield led the Irish with 17 points.