Effingham Daily News
After a second-half surge by Mt. Vernon and Braden Fitzjerrells, the Wooden Shoes found themselves down 42-39 with 4:47 to play.
Things couldn't have changed more in that final 4:47, as the Shoes went on a 16-0 run to end the game and win their opener at the Effingham-Teutopolis Christmas Classic 55-42.
Cody Will had 21 points to lead Teutopolis, but even with the scoring prowess he showed Friday afternoon, it was clear to the senior what made the difference down the stretch.
"We just kept getting stops," he said. "They started to miss some of their shots inside, we just executed the offense well and got stops on defense."
His coach, Andy Fehrenbacher, backed him up, saying the defensive presence the Shoes showed late was beneficial on both ends.
"We started playing a little bit better defense, we try to let our offense feed from our defense, that's something we always stress," he said. "Persistance was what got us a win today."
After trailing by five points with 5:55 left and down three after a Fitzjerrells layup, with 4:47, Teutopolis took control.
Will was fouled and made both ends of a one-and-one, and then Teutopolis got four straight layups, two by Reed Hardiek and two by Bobby Wenthe, with Wenthe's last coming off a nice rebound on a loose ball.
Michael Drees and Brett Mette each made a free throw, Will drilled two and Ryan Sandschafer put home a layup with 22 seconds left to complete the run.
Will had 17 points three minutes into the second half, but didn't have to burden as much of the load down the stretch as Hardiek and Wenthe got going.
But it was Will who carried them to that point, scoring 11 of the Shoes' first 12 points and tallying 13 points in the first half as Teutopolis led 26-25. He played every minute, with Fehrenbacher helping him out when he could, as Will was assigned to guard Fitzjerrells.
"Cody stepped up as a senior leader does," Fehrenbacher said. "There was a time I called timeout just to get Cody a rest. Cody didn't come out guarding him all game.
"I could tell he was wearing down, but I didn't want to take him out of the game."
Fitzjerrells got going in the second half, scoring eight points in the third as Mt. Vernon grabbed a 34-32 lead after three, and he'd finish with 18.
Shakari Hawkins also scored 14 points for Mt. Vernon.
Mette had 11 as the Shoes' inside presence, Hardiek scored all eight of his points in the fourth quarter and Wenthe finished with six.
For Will, who had a spectacular individual game, it was clear where his head was at after the victory.
"I'm just glad we got the win as a team," he said. "We still have a shot to get to the championship."
Teutopolis moves to 1-0 in the tournament and 7-2 overall, and they play Mattoon at 11 a.m. today at Teutopolis High School. Mattoon is 0-1 after their 6 p.m. game with Mt. Vernon Friday, resulting in an 64-48 loss.
The Wooden Shoes will play at 8 p.m. for the title with a win. If they lose, there will be a three-way tie and the time won't be known until after the game with Green Wave.
Mt. Vernon 8 17 9 8 42
Teutopolis 12 14 6 23 55
Mt. Vernon: Fitzjerrells 18, Hawkins 14, Nelson 1, Pike 5, Gardner 4
Teutopolis: Will 21, Sandschafer 2, Mette 11, Drees 3, Hardiek 8, Wenthe 6, Ungrund 3, Smith 1