T-Town topples Neoga, 63-48
Zerrusen's 30-points, Indians FT woes, give Shoes 29th NTC Tourney crown


ALTAMONT - The Teutopolis Wooden Shoes have been a dominating force in the National Trail Conference since its inception back in 1935.

So it is fitting that in the 70th edition of the NTC tournament ended with yet another Wooden Shoe title.

Chris Zerrusen netted 30-points, including eight 3-pointers, in T-Town's 63-48 championship game victory over Neoga Saturday night.

The win produced the 'Shoes 29th NTC tourney championship and improved their 2004-05 record to 19-3 in the process.

Zerrusen put on an offensive show with his long-range accuracy and T-Town benefited from the Indians problems at the free throw line to put away Coach Ken Crawford's 14th NTC tourney crown.

Neoga, trying to win its second National Trail Conference tournament title and first since 1938, got a 20-point performance from senior guard Brandon Thompson in the loss.

As it turned out, Neoga had many chances to get the lead in a game in which Teutopolis never trailed.

But a woeful 7-of-19 execution from the charity stripe doomed coach Art Borries club as Neoga fell to 11-8 on the season.

"We had been shooting free throws great lately. I thought we could have helped ourselves tonight from the line but we struggled," said Coach Borries.

Zerrusen opened the game with a long 'trifecta' just 12 seconds into the contest but Neoga came ready to play, at least in the opening eight minutes.

The Indians twice pulled within a point of the Shoes early, only to see their longstanding rival take command toward the end of the frame.

Thompson scored four first quarter points on a drive to the basket in transition and also a pair of free throws.

But Zerrusen hit three of his bombs in the first quarter, which ended with a Blake Schumacher 17-footer from near the top of the arc to make it 14-8 at the first horn.

Although Teutopolis played several minutes in the first half without 6-foot-5 senior center Paul Niebrugge who picked up a pair of early fouls, the Shoes took command of the contest.

Zerrusen and Schumacher hit for a pair of 3-pointers on back-to-back T-Town trips midway through the second period.

The first in transition as Luke Niebrugge hit Zerrusen with a great pass in the right corner and the 6-foot-3 marksmen nailed the shot to extend the Shoes' lead.

The second one came from the left wing by Schumacher that forced Borries to spend a time out with 6:00 left before the half at 22-12 T-Town.

Neoga made a brief second quarter run, with Thompson and Preston Robinson scoring in close baskets.

But two consecutive 3-pointers from Zerrusen and Matt Crawford kept the Indians at bay.

The half ended with another 17-footer, this time from Gillespie fresh off of the Wooden Shoes' pine.

The two teams marched off of the court with Teutopolis leading 34-23.

"He (Zerrusen) shot the ball well the entire week and he came back from a big injury rehabbed hard to get to this point in his career," said Coach Ken Crawford, referring to Zerrusen's knee problems. "He is doing a lot of good things on both ends of the court."

Neoga's failure to capitalize on T-Town's fouls in the third quarter and Zerrusen's continued hot streak from behind the 3-point arc highlighted a frame in which the Indians had chances to make a dent in the T-Town lead.

Zerrusen scored 11 third quarter points, on three 3-pointers and a fast break lay up.

His steal and length of the floor score made it 38-26 with 5:03 left.

A basket on the right baseline by Zach Braden briefly put a band-aid on the Neoga bleeding, but two more 3-pointers by Zerrusen and rebound basket by Gillespie gave the Shoes' their largest lead of the game 49-28 with 1:28 left in the third quarter.

"He (Zerrusen) just had one of those nights tonight and even when we had someone on him he still scored," added Borries. "We needed some other guys to step up tonight but that didn't happen, especially at the line."

Neoga could have stayed close with the Shoes, but a 1-of-5 free throw shooting quarter kept the Indians from making any sort of run.

Teutopolis got a bit sloppy in the final quarter, committing five turnovers.

However Neoga failed again in finding a way to whittle down the lead.

The Wooden Shoes were the 'toast of the town' connecting on 10-of-12 fourth quarter free throws to finish off the game and Neoga.

The Shoes' hit 19-of-38 shots (50 percent) from the field on the night while Neoga was 20-of-50 from the field.

Zerrusen's 30-points topped all scorers. Gillespie was the only other T-Town player with double-digits with 11.

Neoga got the 20 from Thompson and 11 from Braden.

Neoga held a 24-21 rebounding advantage but failed to capitalize on its board work.

"It was a huge accomplishment to out rebound Teutopolis but we should have done more with it than we did," Borries said.

Neoga's poor performance from the line doomed their chances to win their first NTC tourney title in 67 years.

Both teams' head back into action next week with Neoga hosting Dieterich in a non-conference game Tuesday while Teutopolis hosts St. Elmo on the same night.


Neoga (48) - Robinson 3 0 2-10 8, Thompson 8 0 4-6 20, Verdeyen 0 1 0-0 3, E. Walk 1 0 0-0 3, Flake 0 0 0-0 0, L. Walk 1 0 0-0 2, Ballinger 0 0 0-0 0, Braden 5 0 1-3 11, Bright 1 0 0-0 2.
2FG-19, 3FG-1, FT-7-19, PF-20.
Teutopolis (63) - L. Niebrugge 1 0 2-3 4, Niemerg 0 0 0-0 0, L. Zerrusen 0 0 0-0 0, Schumacher 1 1 2-2 7, Crawford 0 1 5-6 8, C. Zerrusen 1 8 4-5 30, Gillespie 5 0 1-4 11, Spencer 0 0 0-0 0, P. Niebrugge 1 0 1-2 3.
2FG-9, 3FG-10, FT-15-22, PF-17.
Fouled Out - None.
Technical Fouls - None.