- Keith Hjelle
Nelson Nails It at Buzzer, Chargers Edge G-R, 63-61; Girls Lose Another Close One
It looked bleak. Really bleak. When Glidden-Ralston's Blake Pagel made one of two free throws with just five ticks left on the clock to give the Wildcats a 62-61 lead over the ACGC boys, virtually every heart belonging to a Charger fan sank in despair. When Pagel missed his second free throw and the Chargers gathered in the rebound, the booming voice of Charger coach Jake Mohling could be heard be heard in Dallas County as he shouted, "TIME OUT!"
Now the clock read 4.1 seconds. True, the Chargers had the ball, but were still seventy five feet away from their basket. Coach Mohling designed a play that was to free Caden Wardyn coming off a screen--didn't happen. Instead the ball was passed to Nelson who was open near mid court. With no time to pass the ball to someone closer to the basket, Nelson lofted a shot just over the half court line that seemed to take five minutes to get to the basket. Actually, the horn sounded as the ball flew through the air--it was going to be either a heartbreaking loss or pure ecstasy for the Chargers. And ecstasy it was! The ball "tickled the twine" and pandemonium broke loose. A huge roar went up from the home crowd, the student section stormed the court, the public address announcer went crazy, and there was only silence on the Glidden-Ralston side. ACGC prevailed in the end, 63-61!
"Our last two possessions were broken plays," Mohling offered after the game. "Neither was set up for Noah, and yet he got the ball in both cases and scored our last five points, including the game winner."
The two teams played to a 27-27 tie in the first half, with the teams trading leads several times in the first sixteen minutes. "We played pretty well in the first half," Mohling commented. "We committed only six turnovers and rebounded well. But in the third quarter we did not take care of the ball and they made a run." Glidden-Ralston came out in an aggressive zone press in the third quarter which the Chargers did not handle well, and the Wildcats score the first ten points of the second half. They expanded the lead to as many as 14 points at 46-32 before ACGC closed the gap to 48-39 going into the final quarter.
There were several heroes in the fourth quarter in addition to Nelson, as the Chargers made a steady comeback. Quynton Younker scored the first seven ACGC points to cut the deficit from nine to eight at 54-46. Nelson hit a three ball, Bryce Littler hit two charity tosses, and Wardyn scored a field goal to make it 57-53. After G-R made it a seven point ball game at 60-53 there was only 1:15 showing on the clock. A huge mountain to climb for the Chargers. But when Littler hit a trey and Wardyn knocked down two free throws it set the stage for the Wildcats' Pagel and the Chargers' Nelson to complete the drama--see above!
"We kept chipping away at their lead after getting down by fourteen. This would have not happened a year ago. I was pleased with the boy's drive to stick with it," Mohling added. It was that grit by the entire team that enabled the Chargers to be in the position for Nelson to perform his heroics.
Younker had a huge game for ACGC, as he led in scoring with 23 and in rebounding with 8. He hit on 4 out of of 5 of his three point attempts. Wardyn and Littler also scored in double figures with 13 and 10 points respectively, with Wardyn also grabbing 7 rebounds and Littler dishing out a team season best 7 assists.
As a team the Chargers shot a respectable 44%, making 22 of 50 field goals, and hitting on 9 of 21 three point attempts. Free throw shooting was key in the win, as the team made 10 of 11 attempts.
The girls' game offered plenty of excitement of its own, as the Chargers made a furious fourth quarter comeback before falling to the Wildcats 57-49. The first three quarter saw G-R steadily increase its lead, as the quarter scores were 20-14, 33-22, and 45-33. The three ball was good to the Wildcats as they connected on seven of them through the first three frames. Turnovers hurt the locals as they committed thirteen in the first half, but managed to cut that to seven in the second half. The Wildcats turned those twenty turnovers into 23 points for the game.
Although they were down by that 45-33 score heading into the final quarter the Chargers were still hanging around and were not out of the game. It was the final quarter that was the best part of the game for ACGC. With G-R holding a 49-36 lead at the 6:33 mark, the Chargers rattled off seven consecutive points with Morgan Meachem scoring five of the seven to cut the margin to 49-43. Holding the Wildcats scoreless for three and a half minutes was key in allowing the Chargers to have a legitimate shot at the win. When Sierra O'Brien hit a three pointer at the 1:39 mark the G-R lead was down to four at 50-46. After Josie Sargent made the first of 2 free throws and ten seconds later hit a two point goal the Chargers were within three points, 52-49. But that is as close as it got. With under a minute to go the Chargers were forced to foul and the Wildcats responded by making five consecutive free throws to seal the victory.
"Late in games we are still looking for players to step up and hit shots. We were able to get stops and cut their lead to three but were unable to hit a big shot at that point in the game," coach Aaron Dose said following the loss. "I was very happy with our ability to push the ball down the floor on missed shots, and it was good to see our free throw shooting improve, as we made eleven of fifteen attempts. Glidden-Ralston's pressure was good for our guards to see as many teams in our conference will continue to press us."
O'Brien led the scoring with 14 points, while Meachem also hit double figures with 11, followed by Lauryn Embleton's 9--all from behind the arc. O'Brien and Mady Smith each gathered in 6 rebounds, while Smith and Jorga Hoover each recorded 3 assists. There was a slight uptick in shooting from the floor as the Chargers were 17 of 53 for 32%. Free throw shooting was a season best at 73% on 11 of 15 shooting.
The win for the boys evens their overall record at 2-2, 1-2 WCAC. The girls are still looking for their first win after five defeats, with three coming in WCAC play. There is little turn around time for the teams as they return to conference play to face rival Panorama tomorrow (Sat.) on the Charger hard court. This is an early start with the girls' game to begin at 5 PM and the boys' game to follow. A freshman girls' game at 3:30 will get things started.
Girls' Score by Quarters Boys' Score by Quarters
G-R 22 11 12 12--57 G-R 15 12 21 13--61
ACGC 14 8 11 16--49 ACGC 12 15 12 24--63
Box Score: REB Box Score: REB
FG 3PT FT O-D AST STL TP FG 3PT FT O-D AST STL TP
Fuller 0-0 0-0 0-0 0-3 0 0 0 Sargent 0-1 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
Laabs 1-7 0-0 0-1 2-0 0 1 2 Nelson 3-6 2-3 0-0 0-1 1 0 8
Smith 2-9 0-3 2-2 1-5 3 2 6 Spack 2-4 1-2 0-0 0-1 1 0 5
Embleton 3-9 3-6 0-0 1-1 2 0 9 Wheatley 0-1 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
J. Hoover 0-5 0-1 0-0 2-2 3 3 0 Littler 3-10 2-5 2-2 1-1 7 2 10
O'Brien 5-12 1-4 3-3 3-3 2 0 14 Wardyn 4-11 0-4 5-6 2-5 1 2 13
Young 1-2 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 1 2 Younker 9-13 4-5 1-1 4-4 1 0 23
Carrick 0-2 0-0 0-1 0-0 1 1 0 Stowe 1-4 0-0 2-2 1-4 2 0 4
Sargent 2-3 0-0 1-2 0-2 0 1 5
Meachem 3-4 0-0 5-6 2-2 0 1 11