South Central edges Hatchets
Cougars rally with 15-1 third quarter run, overcome fourth quarter trouble
Markley nails game winning 3-pointer, adds late free throw for NTC triumph

- On Tuesday night in a key matchup at home against Windsor-Stewardson-Strasburg, the South Central Cougars made a big run in the third quarter to take command and then held on for dear life the rest of the way.

Coach Jamie VanScyoc saw his troops put together a 15-1 move to take the lead, only to squander chances to put the game away in the early part of the fourth quarter.

But when the final horn sounded, it was the Cougars who managed to make the final run to get the important National Trail Conference victory over the Hatchets.

The Cougars, after taking a 49-40 lead, came up empty on eight consecutive offensive chances to open the final quarter.

But then it was the Hatchets turn to make a move.

Coach Cody McCollum's club went on their own scoring crusade, scoring the game's next 12-points to take back the lead.

Then senior Trevor Markley stepped up for the hosts.

Despite being saddled with foul issues for most of the game, the 5-foot-10 backcourt leader, scored seven of this 14-points in the fourth quarter, including a pair of back-breaking 3-point bombs that gave South Central a 58-56 win.

Markley, on a set play with :22 left, canned his final 3-point bomb from the top of the arc to give the Cougars a 57-56 lead.

The Hatchets had a chance to win the game in the final moments, but they turned the ball over.

Markley was fouled with :01.9 and he hit the first of his two free throws.

He missed the second one but W-S-S senior Nic Hutchinson, after getting the rebound and taking a couple of dribbles up the floor, launched a near halfcourt shot that bounced off of the backboard as the Cougars celebrated the one-point win.

South Central's Trent Geiler led the way with 17-points to compliment Markley's 14.

Sophomore guard Logan Lotz added 11-points for the victors, who saw their record even out at 7-7 overall, 1-2 in the NTC.

“We didn't go into a prevent offense (fourth quarter) but we just stopped attacking which was what got us the lead,” said Coach VanScyoc. “The kids started to be passive. We talked about that after those few possessions after I called a timeout. We basically shot them back into the game after that 15-1 run. But we showed a lot of perseverance.”

Windsor-Stewardson-Straburg saw its mark slip to 9-7 overall while suffering their first league loss after three-consecutive wins.

The Hatchets had chances to put this game on ice at different points of the contest but made far too many mistakes.

“The biggest thing was offensively when we got the lead we didn't play well with the lead. We took a bad 3-point shot and didn't work the ball like we should have. We threw the ball out of bounds on the press that we shouldn't have done. The small things like that, I told them you won't beat any team doing that,” said Coach McCollum. “If you can't do the small things right, executing on offense and making good decisions, when we had the lead, we didn't keep it. That was the most disappointing thing.”

Six-foot-three junior center Isaac Kramer was a thorn in the side of the hosts, especially early.

He got loose multiple times in the first half near the basket, finishing with 17-points.

Teammate and classmate Gavin Bennett, a 5-foot-11 guard, added 12-points for W-S-S.

Hutchinson tossed in nine-points and Christian Kessler added eight for Coach McCollum.

Kramer was tough to deal with early for South Central as he scored a pair of baskets in the opening quarter including a conventional three-point play to close the stanza.

Coach VanScyoc got eight-points from junior forward Ryan Matheny and five-points from freshman Hunter Brandt with each contributing early.

Matheny scored on a pass from Brandt that turned into a three-point play and then Brandt added a rebound basket to give the Cougars their first lead of the night at 9-8.

A 10-2 run by the Hatchets made it 18-14 at the end of one.

“Our defense at times tonight was really good. We picked up the pressure, especially in the second half,” said Coach VanScyoc. “But the Kramer kid is tough, and he caused us a lot of problems tonight in the post.”

Windsor-Stewardson-Strasburg pushed its lead to double-digits with another run in the second quarter.

A 7-1 run, highlighted by another three-point play from Kramer and a pair of scores from Bennett pushed the lead to 31-21 with 2:42 remaining in the half.

South Central proceeded to close the half with eight-straight points to trail 31-28 at the break.

Lotz sandwiched a pair of free throws and a 3-pointer around a drive to the basket by Markley to end the second down just three.

In the 15-1 scoring move, the Cougars got it started by Markley converting on a drive while being fouled by W-S-S Chase Thies.

This triggered the run that had points from Matheny, Geiler and Lotz.

Matheny and Markley both hit 3-point shots Geiler and Lotz worked a fast break to perfection as Geiler got the ball to Lotz who drove down the floor and then returned the ball to Geiler for a lay in for a 46-40 South Central lead.

Markley's second 3-point bomb closed the sprint with the Cougars comfortably up by nine.

Just when the Cougars thought they were in charge, the Hatchets flipped the switch and made a run of their own to take back the lead.

They closed the quarter with four consecutive points on a pair of free throws by Kessler and then a basket by Bennett to make it 49-44 at the end of the third.

The run continued as it turned into a 12-0 advantage and a 52-49 Windsor-Stewardson-Strasburg lead.

In the first eight possessions of the fourth quarter, the Cougars committed four turnovers, missed three 3-pointers and misfired on another field goal as they trailed by three points with 2:42 left.

Markley tied the game at 52 with his first of two fourth quarter 3-point bombs, this time from the right wing, and Lotz gave back the lead to the Cougars with a driving bank shot.

The Hatchets quickly responded and had the game in hand, getting back the lead with Kramer and Kessler each scoring for a 56-54 lead.

However as it turned out, Markley had one more big shot left in him and his final free throw gave the Cougars the final margin of victory in front of the home folks in Farina.

“Markley came in after having to sit most of the game with foul trouble and knocked down two big 3's. The second one was a set play, one we hadn't ran all night. I drew it up at a timeout and we had ran it in practice before. We executed it and he (Markley) knocked down the shot,” said Coach VanScyoc.

South Central finished the game hitting 21-of-43 from the floor with 8-of-20 from the beyond the arc.

The Cougars survived their own mistakes, committing five of their 11-turnovers in the final quarter.

Windsor-Stewardson-Strasburg ended up 22-of-47 overall, 2-of-9 from the 3-point line and they also had five turnovers in the fourth quarter (13 overall) in the defeat.

Coach McCollum saw his club waste its overall size advantage as they out boarded the smaller Cougars 37-16.

The Cougars play host to Dieterich on Friday night while Windsor-Stewardson-Strasburg hosts Ramsey on Friday.

“Tonight we did too much of 'it's my turn to shoot' instead of playing team ball,” said Coach McCollum. “When we do things right, stick to the game plan, we created the lead. But when we start playing selfish basketball and settled for outside shots they turned into missed shots. We are just going to have to learn from this.”

South Central
Windsor-Stewardson-Strasburg (56) – Bennett 6 0 0-1 12, Thies 2 0 0-0 4, Burton 0 0 0-0 0, Overbeck 2 0 2-2 6, Hutchinson 1 2 1-2 9, Kessler 3 0 2-2 8, Kramer 6 0 5-6 17.
2FG-20, 3FG-2, FT-10-13, PF-14.

South Central (58)
– Markley 0 4 2-4 14, Matheny 2 1 1-1 8, Geiler 5 2 1-1 17, Lotz 3 1 2-2 11, McCown 1 0 0-1 2, Fox 0 0 1-2 1, Blomberg 0 0 0-0 0, Brandt 2 0 1-1 5.
2FG-13, 3FG-8, FT-8-12, PF-13.

Fouled Out
– None.
Technical Fouls
– None.