Wildcat rally falls just short
Published: Thursday, March 13th, 2014
What looked like it might be a blowout early turned out to be anything but that as the Custer High School boys basketball team fell behind by as much as 17 points before having a valiant rally fall just short in a 58-50 loss to the St. Thomas More Cavaliers in the Region 8Aâï¿½ï¿½championship game Tuesday night at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.
Custer fell behind by 10 before most of the crowd had even settled into their seats, as the Cavaliers opened the quarter with a barrage of three-pointers, making five in a row at one point—including three from Jeron Laurenti. Meanwhile, Custer missed seven of its first eight shot attempts and fell behind 17-4 after the first period.
The second quarter was more of the same, as after Kenneth Myers nailed a three-pointer More answered with two more triples from freshman Jake Satter, followed by a Caden Skinner three-pointer that put More up 33-16.
The Cavaliers shot 56 percent from three-point range in the game, making nine. Custer head coach Larry Luitjens said, while he knew More was capable of shooting well, the team was taken aback by the More guards’ hot start.
“They hadn’t shot well against us,”âï¿½ï¿½he said.âï¿½ï¿½“Then they come out and hit five in a row and we’re back on our heels. We never got off our heels until the fourth quarter.”
Most of More’s three-pointers came off the same play, with the post setting screens to free up wide open three-pointers for More shooters. The play is something Luitjens said the team had scouted prior to the game.
“We talked about it and told them what they did,”âï¿½ï¿½he said.âï¿½ï¿½“We weren’t fighting through the screens. We were trying to go underneath them.”
While the Cavaliers were making seemingly every shot they threw up, Custer continued to struggle offensively in the first half, as More took Wildcat leading scorer Chase Glazier out of the game early with a box-and-one defense. Glazier had only a pair of free throws in the first half.
The second half, however, was a different story.
Glazier was the catalyst for the comeback, playing like a man possessed in the second half, scoring 20 of his 22 points, driving to the hoop, burying three-pointers and even giving a primal scream into the ear of the Cavaliers’ Matt Eastmo after hitting a fadeaway jumper over him.
The Wildcats cut the Cavalier lead to 13 by the end of the third quarter, and the continued to claw away at the deficit throughout the fourth quarter. Glazier cut the Cavalier lead to eight with a three-pointer at the 2:17 mark, and a Myers three-pointer to answer a Cavalier basket brought the crowd to its feet and put Custer within five.
Custer’s next possession it was as close as the team would get the rest of the way, however, as Glazier took the ball full court and laid it in to make the score 51-47 with 1:08 left. From there, the Cavaliers were able to run the clock and make free throws, as Custer had dug just too big of a hole to start the game.
Luitjens said he was especially proud of his team’s second half effort, pointing out it could have easily given up after falling behind by such a large margin.
Last Thursday the Wildcats advanced to the Region 8A championship game by outscoring Hot Springs 38-27 in the second half on the way to a 65-52 win.
The first half of the game unfolded much like the last game between the two in Custer, with the Wildcats storming out to a double-digit lead before the Bison rallied. Glazier put the Wildcats up 18-8 with three of his game-high 22 points late in the first quarter, but the Bison cut it to three in the second quarter after Hunter Pulscher scored inside, followed by Jacob Tarrell hitting a three-pointer.
The Wildcats pushed the lead back to eight after a Glazier three-point play the old-fashioned way started by a Baker block, followed by a Baker putback of a teammate's miss. The Bison scored the next eight points, however, and Custer led only 27-25 at the half.
Custer scored the first seven points of the third quarter and opened a commanding lead that the Bison couldn’t crack. Thomsen went baseline for two points late in the third to put Custer up 14, which was followed by another Baker putback and a Baker dunk off a nice assist from Myers.
The Bison would twice whittle the lead back to 10 in the fourth quarter, but the dagger came when Baker had an emphatic swat of a Bison shot that led to a fast break that culminated with Myers scoring and getting fouled. The subsequent free throw made the score 61-46.
The More loss brought an end not only to the careers of Glazier, Myers—who finished the game with 15 points—Logan Burns and David Hernandez, but also the storied career of Luitjens, who heads into retirement with 767 wins.
Luitjens said his first order of business in retirement is to head to Colorado to watch his granddaughter, Brooke, try out for a 15-and-under AAU team.
“That one has gone up pretty high on my calendar all of a sudden,” he said.
The Wildcats ended their season at 15-7.
Custer 18 9 19 19 —65
HS 8 17 7 20 –52
Custer—Logan Burns 2-4 2-4 7, Kenneth Myers 2-10 4-5 8, Chase Glazier 8-17 5-5 22, Joel Thomsen 4-10 0-1 8, Adam Baker 9-14 0-0 18. Totals:âï¿½ï¿½25-55 13-17 65.
Hot Springs—Cole Berkley 6-12 0-0 15, Caden Maciejewski 0-1 0-0 0, David Nelson 1-3 0-2 2, Grady Egly 3-8 0-0 7, Derek Merchen 0-3 0-0 0, Hunter Pulscher 9-19 0-4 18, Jacob Terrell 4-8 0-1 10. Totals: 23-54 0-7 52.
Three-point goals: Custer 2 (Burns, Glazier). HS 6 (Berkley 3, Terrell 2, Egly). Rebounding: Custer 38 (Glazier 12, Baker 10, Myers 9), HS 17 (Pulscher 8). Assists: Custer 12 (Glazier 4), HS 2. Steals: Custer 8 (Glazier 4), HSâï¿½ï¿½8 (Egly 4). Turnovers:âï¿½ï¿½Custer 15, HSâï¿½ï¿½15. Total fouls: Custer 11, HSâï¿½ï¿½16. Fouled out: none.
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