Alex McNamee & Ryan Czachorski
Effingham Daily News
Two days after Altamont's offense was held in check by St. Anthony, the Indians got back going in the third-place game of the Vandalia Holiday Tournament with an 86-73 win over Pana.
The Indians have been using their conditioning and team speed all season to outwork teams, and they found a dance partner in Pana who was willing to play the Indians' kind of game.
"We knew it was going to be a track meet they like to press and rush it," said Altamont coach John Niebrugge. "That’s our philosophy too. We were going tofight fire with fire a little bit. We told them to attack the rim and got some easy buckets."
Altamont shot better than 50 percent from two-point range and shot an ashtonishing 44 free throws in the game, as Pana got in to foul trouble early and often. As things were close in the second half, Pana committed 10 fouls in the third quarter alone, putting Altamont in the double bonus for the entirety of the fourth quarter.
The Indians made those free throws count, hitting 32 of them for a percentage of 73 at the charity stripe.
"That was big," Niebrugge said. "I don’t know if foul trouble is always their downfall, but for us to get easy buckets from the line, it was enough points for us to keep stretching it."
While the 13-point win was a decent margin, Altamont outworked the Panthers all night for third, steadily increasing its lead all game as opposed to riding a big quarter to victory.
The Indians came out in the first, taking a 17-15 lead, and extending that to 39-30 at the half. Pana cut the deficit to eight after three quarters, but Altamont iced the game in the fourth.
With the double bonus in their back pocket, the Indians went to work at the free-throw line. Jake Seidel tallied nine points on the night, with all nine coming from the free-throw line. Justin McGinnis was 7-for-11 on his way to 15 points.
Garrett Ziegler led the team with 20 points, while Aaron Goeckner had eight rebounds and 11 points and Derek Jahraus scored 10 points.
Rebounding proved key as Pana shot 8-for-33 from 3-point range, helping Altamont get out and go nearly at will.
"We knew we had some long rebounds that would lead to runouts for us," Niebrugge said. "We wanted to attack the rim and beat them at their own game."
Ziegler's efforts landed him on the All-Tournament team, the only Indian to make the squad. St. Anthony's Alex Hoelscher was named MVP, with Neil Williams and John Goeckner joining him from St. Anthony and Levi Maxey making it from St. Elmo/Brownstown.
The rest of the team consisted of Pana's Kyle Gibson and Johnathan McLeod, Flora's Ethan Lieb and Bryce Pearce, Vnadalia's Colton Woolsey and Greenville's Austin Lawrence.
Altamont hosts Shelbyville on Jan. 7, fresh off third and its 10th win of the season.
Pana 15 15 20 23 73
Altamont 17 22 19 28 86
Pana: Miller 5, McLeod 16, Beeson 8, Gibson 19, Trexler 13, Zahradka 2, Clark 4, Franklin 4
Altamont: Jackman 5, McGinnis 15, Ziegler 20, Borders 5, Goeckner 11, Armstrong 9, Seidel 9, Jahraus 10, Wolff 2