Boys suffer second loss to Valentine
Gothenburg’s boys shot a mere 23% from the line Thursday night against Valentine, making only three free throws the entire game.
At the same time, the Swedes committed 26 turnovers, many unforced.
Combined, Gothenburg’s turnovers and poor free throw shooting allowed the Badgers to dig in during the fourth quarter and pull out a 49-46 win.
“I thought we handled their pressure better than the first time we played them,” said Swede coach Roger Koehler, referring to a loss to Valentine in the semi-finals of the Southwest Conference tournament. “But we still had way too many turnovers.”
After a 4-0 start by the Badgers, Gothenburg pushed the pace and worked to a 9-8 lead midway through the first period.
Although the score remained close, the Swedes held the advantage through the second period.
Gothenburg was up by as many as five in the second quarter and carried a 22-19 lead into halftime.
“I liked the tempo,” Koehler said. “We were looking to run and if we didn’t have the run, we set up in our half-court offense and worked the ball around.”
The Swedes stayed on top of the Badgers through the third quarter as well but Valentine never let the score get too far away.
A three-pointer at the buzzer by Marshall Miller put Valentine within two at the end of the third with Gothenburg leading 35-33.
A quick shot by Miller to start the fourth quarter tied the game at 35-35 and the score went back and forth from there.
With tension high and only a minute and a half to play in the game, Gothenburg led 44-43 when Alix Meisinger pulled down a rebound on Valentine’s end of the court.
The fast break didn’t materialize but the Swedes stuck with it until Meisinger put in a jump shot from the elbow to give Gothenburg a 46-43 advantage.
Unfortunately, that was the last time the Swedes put the ball through the hoop.
They only had one field goal attempt in the final minute of the game and missed the front end of a one-and-one to boot, giving the Badgers ample opportunity to take over.
Valentine went 4-for-4 from the line in that time and added a field goal by Miller, who finished the game with a game-high 18 points.
“We panicked down the stretch,” Koehler said. “I guess not everyone panicked, just the people with the ball in their hands. Valentine is a good, athletic team and we could have easily won both games against them but when it gets close, turnovers and free throws are key.”
Gothenburg finished the game hitting only 3-of-13 from the line.
Brett Dockweiler was leading scorer for the Swedes with 13 points, including three three-pointers.
Korey Ahlenstorf added 10 points and eight rebounds.
Gothenburg’s game with Minden that was scheduled for Saturday was postponed due to weather. The Swedes will now host the Whippets on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m.
In the meantime, Gothenburg (13-6) will travel to Ainsworth (3-15) on Friday.
Koehler said Ainsworth’s returning all-conference player Nick Martin is just getting back into form after an injury so he looks for the Bulldogs to put up a good fight.
“They live and die by the three-pointer,” the coach said. “We’re going to have to be ready to defend it.”
Friday’s game is set to start at 7 p.m.