Stew-Stras played its second game in about 15 hours on Saturday, against Mt. Pulaski at the St. Anthony Shootout, but Comets head coach Shane Smith didn’t make that an excuse.
Both of the Comets’ games — Friday against St. Elmo/Brownstown and Saturday — were losses. Mt. Pulaski beat Stew-Stras 58-53 on Saturday.
Stew-Stras found itself in a position to win the game with a 46-43 lead in the middle of the fourth quarter, but Mt. Pulaski went on an 11-0 run to take a 54-46 lead.
Jason Fry made a 3-pointer with 1:31 remaining to bring Stew-Stras within three points, 54-51.
Mt. Pulaski made two of its next four free throws and Stew-Stras was still in the game after a layup by Bryse Bugger with 23 seconds left.
But there was too much to catch up to, as Mt. Pulaski capitalized on two ensuing free throws to make it 58-53 to win the game.
“We just threw the ball to the other team and traveled way too many times in the second half,” Smith said. “Mt. Pulaski did a good job capitalizing on the mistakes we had and we had a lot in the second half.”
Fry and Brandon Helmuth led Stew-Stras to 27-24 halftime lead. Helmuth scored 24 points in the game, while Fry scored 18. No other Comets player scored more than five points.
The pair led Stew-Stras to a 20-point second quarter. Fry scored 10 points in the quarter, while Helmuth made three 3-pointers for nine points.
“We distributed the ball and found shooters who were hot,” Smith said.
Jordan Luczaj scored nine points in the third quarter for Mt. Pulaski to take a 39-35 lead into the final quarter. He scored a team-high 19 points.
Brady Thomas added 10 points for Mt. Pulaski. Michael Lowery scored nine.
After an 11-point first quarter, when it led Stew-Stras, Mt. Pulaski scored 13 in the second, 15 in the third and 19 in the fourth.
Eight players scored for Mt. Pulaski, compared to only five for Stew-Stras.
An offensive rebound on a late free throw attempt was evident of how Stew-Stras lost the game, Smith said.
Brett Huff missed the second of two free throws with 33 seconds left, ahead 55-51, and Mt. Pulaski got the offensive rebound to get back to the free throw line.
There, Luczaj made one-of-two from the line to lift Mt. Pulaski to a 56-51 lead.
“We’ve had several games we’ve lost on the exact same play,” Smith said. “It’s frustrating on both ends.”
Stew-Stras will host South Central at 6:15 p.m. Tuesday.
Alex McNamee can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 123, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stew-Stras 7 20 8 18 53
Mt. Pulaski 11 13 15 19 58
Stew-Stras: Jones 3, Rincker 3, Helmuth 24, Bugger 5, Fry 18
Mt. Pulaski: Collier 6, Thomas 10, Huff 3, Luczaj 19, Amidon 4, Lowery 9, Stewart 2, Leinweber 5