Mascoutah ends Cougars undefeated run
Robbie Rudy's 21-points paced Indians past Central 38-36 in overtime

NASHVILLE - With an 18-game winning streak and a newly gained high state ranking, Breese Central was a big favorite to win the Nashville Invitational Tournament when it began Tuesday night.

With wins over four of the seven teams in the field prior to this week, including their Friday night semifinal opposition, the Cougars were staring at another date with Nashville in Saturday night's title game.

However coach Scott Oltmann's Mascoutah Indians forgot to read the NIT script.

Riding the scoring wave of sophomore Robbie Rudy, including all eight Indian points in overtime, Mascoutah sent the Cougars into the third place game with a 38-36 win Friday night.

In a sluggish battle where defenses ruled, it was Mascoutah that had the right combinations late in the contest to prevail.

Rudy took over in the extra session by connecting on three consecutive shots, including a back-breaking conventional three-point play with :49.3 to play. Driving to the basket, the 6-foot-3 guard made a nifty spin move while being fouled by Central's Adam Brichler.

His successful free throw made it 37-36 Mascoutah. He added another charity toss with :24.3 to go to produce the final margin.

Central had several shots to tie or take the lead, but the Cougars committed a pair of turnovers and missed two shots in the final moments.

In bounding the ball with :01.7, Central's Ken Detmer had an open look from the right baseline.

However his shot, along with most of what the Cougars attempted on this night, fell short.

"I don't think it was a perfect game-plan, but we had some things that we tried to do and it worked tonight," said Mascoutah coach Scott Oltmann, who saw his club move to 13-4 on the season with the important win.

"With their inside presence, we had to take something away and we did a good job of challenging their shots. "We were hoping that they wouldn't shoot the ball as well as they had done against us the first time and they didn't."

Mascoutah advances to play Nashville in Saturday's title game, marking the seventh time the Indians have played for the NIT title. Mascoutah has won the championship twice, the last time coming in 1989.

"I thought we did a good job on him (Rudy) tonight," said Central coach Stan Eagleson. "He had just the eight points heading into the fourth quarter. But he is going to do that (score) because he is a nice player. We wanted to control him because we knew we weren't going to stop him because he is too good. Defensively we played pretty well but offensively we were not aggressive enough against the press or against their zone defense."

In a rematch from a game at the Mater Dei Holiday Tournament, Mascoutah played with a lot more confidence on this night.

Central had won the previous meeting 61-43.

But it was clear after the first quarter that the Indians were up to the task the second time around.

The first quarter was brutal, with both teams having offensive problems.

The 5-5 tie after eight minutes was indicative of the kind of defense that was played on this night.

Mascoutah managed just a single field goal in the opening quarter, a 15-footer from Rudy on the right wing with 5:48 to go which spotted the Indians a 2-0 lead.

Central retaliated with five straight points from Brichler, Detmer and Tom Baro.

Baro converted a conventional three-point play, which was followed by a Detmer tip in to make it 5-2 Cougars with 3:35 remaining.

Three-of-four free throws by Rudy and teammate Jared McCoy ended a lackluster period.

Central was a mere 2-of-10 from the field while Mascoutah had nothing to brag about hitting just 1-of-5 while committing four turnovers, including three traveling violations.

Following a 3-pointer from Central's Ryan Meyer, Mascoutah took advantage of Central's concentration on Rudy when guard Eric Beimfohr and forward Ben Norrenberns connected on 3-pointers in the second frame on back-to-back trips.

Later in the quarter Beimfohr connected again, this time the shot was near NBA length from the right wing.

A fast break lay in caught Central napping as McCoy went the length of the court to score after hauling down a rebound, which gave the Tribe its largest lead at 16-8 with 2:07 to go before intermission.

A 3-pointer from Brichler closed the first half scoring. But the shot was significant in that Central wouldn't connect again from behind the arc the rest of the contest.

Central responded from the halftime rest with a quick burst out of the gate in the third quarter.
Brichler and Detmer both scored in close to the basket as Central temporarily solved the Indians zone defense.

Detmer connected while being fouled by Norrenberns and, when he made the subsequent free throw, the game was even at 16-apiece.

Rudy scored twice in the third period. A backdoor lay in on a pass from Singleton and a drive to the basket while being fouled by reserve Brett Zurliene. He missed the free throw attempt, leaving the game tied at 20.

Two free throws by Detmer sent the game into the fourth stanza at 22-20 Central.

Central thought they had a chance to break the game open with a brief run that produced a three-point lead.

Brichler and Detmer again did the damage, with rebound basket from Brichler and Detmer's 15-foot shot from near the foul line.

However a pair of missed free throws by Donny Petterson with :21.7 remaining left the door slightly ajar for Mascoutah.

With Central looking for Rudy to get the ball, it was Beimfohr who connected on the pivotal shot that fashioned the overtime session.

His 3-pointer from right in front of the Mascoutah bench evened the score at 30-all.

"If you are going to be a good team you are going to have to have other kids step up and they did tonight," added Oltmann, whose team will play for the NIT title for the seventh time.

Detmer had a shot to win the game as he got the ball near the free throw line in the final moments.

But 6-foot-3 senior Alex Singleton reached high in the air to slightly deflect the attempt, forcing the two teams to play four additional minutes to decide the contest.

"Alex Singleton made a huge play at the end of regulation on the blocked shot by Detmer," said Oltmann. "He has long arms and he can get up to challenge shots. He knew there wasn't time for him (Detmer) to drive around him and Alex reacted well."

The extra period was the 'Robbie Rudy show', although Coach Eagleson's club had its chances.

Central had two different two-point leads, when Detmer scored twice on free throws and an open look on the left block.

But Rudy's scoring spree at the end held up and when Detmer's last attempt fell short, the undefeated season was history for Breese Central.

"Our kids played hard and I don't think it was a thing where we overlooked them. You just got to give Mascoutah credit for the job that they did," Eagleson said. "When you shoot 2-of-16 from behind the 3-point line, that allows them to keep the pressure. Both times at the end of regulation and the overtime we got the ball where we wanted, but both times we just didn't get the ball to go down."

Neither team set any shooting records on this night.

Central was just 11-of-34 (32 percent) while Mascoutah limped in with a 13-of-33 effort (39 percent).

The Cougars held a slight 23-19 rebounding margin and they forced Mascoutah into 12 turnovers.

But it was Rudy's 21-points that was the difference. Teammates Beimfohr and Norrenberns chipped in nine and five respectively in this low-scoring battle.

Detmer topped Central (18-1) with 15-points while Brichler added 11.

BC will play Wesclin in the third place game at 6:30 pm Saturday night while the Indians hope to snatch another victory against the host Hornets in the finale at 8 pm.

"They are so good at moving the basketball and finding the open people. I thought we did a good job of limiting their shots," finalized Oltmann. "We want to get the ball in his (Rudy's) hands but he had a tough night because Central made him work. But some of our other kids stepped up tonight. We thought that we could play with them. We didn't shoot the ball well the first time we played them. We knew that we had to shoot better and limit their scoring opportunities and we did both of those things tonight. I hope that this is a win that we can build on for the rest of the season."

Breese Central

The Hornets nearly coughed up a 21-point lead as they held off the Warriors in the second semifinal.

Having a 49-28 lead heading into the final quarter, Nashville allowed Wesclin to hit five fourth quarter 3-pointers.

But Nashville had just enough left to post the win behind Andrew Wilson's 16-points and Lucas O'Rear's 14.
The Hornets improved to 17-4 despite hitting just 8-of-17 free throws, including four consecutive 1-and-1 attempts in the final quarter, allowing the Wesclin comeback.

Wesclin got 18-points from Brent Shoemaker in the loss.

Mascoutah (38) - Beimfohr 0 3 0-0 9, Norrenberns 1 1 0-0 5, McCoy 1 0 1-2 3, Rudy 6 1 6-9 21, A. Singleton 0 0 0-0 0.
2FG-8, 3FG-5, FT-7-11, PF-14.
Breese Central (36) - Baro 1 0 1-2 3, Petterson 0 0 2-3 2, Meyer 0 1 2-2 5, Detmer 4 0 7-9 15, Brichler 4 1 0-0 11, Dawson 0 0 0-0 Zurliene 0 0 0-0.
2FG-9, 3FG-2, FT-12-16, PF-15.
Fouled Out - None.
Technical Fouls - None.