For the Daily News
Free-throw shooting competitions are a big part of first-year Cowden-Herrick coach Bruce Manola’s practice schedule.
And on Saturday, that near-daily routine helped the Hornets pull off something the program hadn’t accomplished in 35 years.
Cowden-Herrick held off the Bulldogs’ attempt to come back from a 13-point deficit by making 13 of 14 free throw attempts in the final three minutes of its 69-64 NTC victory.
It is believed to be the Hornets' first win against St. Anthony since 1978.
"It's great," said forward Luke Moore, who teamed up with Tyson Morgason and Ethan Schoonover to score 56 points. "I don't even know anybody who was on the team that beat them (back in 1978) - it was that long ago. In the past St. Anthony's been so good. To beat them now feels great."
Cowden-Herrick stormed out of the gates, hitting seven of their first 10 shots - including 4-of-4 shooting from three-point range - for a 20-7 lead just six minutes into the game.
The Bulldogs (7-16) managed to cut that lead to single digits in the second quarter, but Moore's buzzer-beater gave the Hornets (14-8) a 12-point lead heading into halftime.
St. Anthony stormed back to the game in the third quarter, outscoring Cowden-Herrick 19-11, including a Jacob Schuette 3-pointer that cut the home team's lead to just four heading into the fourth.
But foul trouble caught up to the Bulldogs in the final frame, and Cowden-Herrick took full advantage.
The Hornets found themselves in the bonus just 44 seconds into the fourth, and after hitting just 1-of-4 from the line to start the quarter, Manola's team caught fire from the charity stripe.
Moore hit 5-of-6 charity attempts down the stretch, while Morgason was 4-of-4, and Schoonover and Seth Barnes were both 2-of-2.
"That's what saved us," Manola said. "Our free-throw shooting was great tonight."
"We tried to pick the ones we were gonna foul, and they made them," Bulldogs coach Mark Tovey said. "They made four or six in a row with the guys we wanted to foul."
Sophomore siblings Andrew and Zach Gardewine made things interesting by combining for 12 points in the final two minutes of play, but Schuette and Charlie Schultz fouled out during that span, and the Bulldogs simply could not overcome the Hornets' clutch free-throw shooting and their own rough start.
"We set the table for ourselves early by sleepwalking through the whole first half," Tovey said. "We had no energy and were making poor decisions. Turnovers weren't that bad; we only had 11 for the game, but we had very poor decision making."
Moore's four first-quarter steals helped fuel Cowden-Herrick's charge out of the gates, and the 6-foot-3 senior finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds, right around his season averages.
The big contributions of Morgason (18 points, 14 rebounds) and Schoonover (18 points) helped push the Hornets over the top. Both came in averaging just under 10 ppg.
“A couple of them stepped up that we weren’t really planning on being scorers,” Tovey said. “Moore is a really good player, but the two other guys — Morgason and Schoonover had 18 apiece — that’s a tough load to have three guys do that.”
Manola lauded his entire team’s effort.
“We know how good Luke is,” Manola said. “But Ethan Schoonover’s stepping up, and also our sophomore, Colton Burrus. Tyson Morgason, too — they’re all coming through.”
The Hornets’ game plan was to spread the floor offensively to try to minimize the Bulldogs’ size advantage, and that plan worked to a T early on, as the Hornets hit 7 of 13 shots from the floor in a 21-point first quarter.
“We pulled them out from under the basket, which I knew we’d have to do, because they’re too big,” Manola said. “We were able to spread them and get some baskets on the drive and on kickouts.”
The Hornets struggled mightily in the third quarter, but knew exactly what to do once they got into the bonus at the start of the fourth.
“We got their two best players in foul trouble, so we knew right then we just needed to hit our free throws to get where we needed to go,” Morgason said.
“We started off pretty hot,” Moore added. “We had a great first half. But in the third quarter we couldn’t hit anything. But we kept our head up, and in the fourth quarter we pulled it through.”
The Gardewine brothers combined for 24 points on 10 of 12 shooting from the field, while Schuette had 17 points. The Bulldogs hit 50 percent from the field (24 for 48), but the loss of forward John Goeckner, who is out for the year with a hairline fracture in his lumbar vertebrae, was evident in the rebounding category, as Cowden-Herrick had a huge 28-18 advantage.
St. Anthony fell to 7-16, and Tovey indicated a rotation shakeup might be in order.
“We’ve been going with basically the same lineup for a majority of the year,” Tovey said. “Maybe its time to try some things a little bit differently. Not drastically. We stick to what we try to teach. But maybe we’ll be a little quicker about some substitutions and things like that.
“Down the stretch here we need to be as good as we can be, but we’ve proven we’re not very good sometimes with the players we’ve had on the floor.”
Cowden-Herrick 69, St. Anthony 64
St. Anthony 11 13 19 21 — 64
C-H 21 15 11 22 — 69
St. Anthony — Williams 1-5 3-4 5, Z.Gardewine 4-5 0-0 11, Schuette 7-17 0-0 17, Schultz 4-10 1-2 11, A.Gardewine 6-7 1-2 13, Vogel 1-1 1-2 3, Hoelcher 1-3 2-4 4. Totals 24-48 8-12 64.
Cowden-Herrick — Heiserman 1-1 0-1 2, Moore 7-13 5-7 20, Burrus 2-5 2-3 7, Barnes 1-2 2-2 4, Schoonover 5-13 5-6 18, Morgason 6-12 4-4 18. Totals 22-46 18-23 69.
3-point goals — Cowden-Herrick 7-14 (Moore 1-3, Burrus 1-3, Schoonover 3-5, Morgason 2-3) St. Anthony 8-17 (Williams 0-1, Z.Gardewine 3-3, Schuette 3-7, Schultz 2-6). Rebounds — Cowden-Herrick 28 (Morgason 14, Moore 10), St. Anthony 18 (A.Gardewine 8). Turnovers — Cowden-Herrick 9, St. Anthony 11. Fouled Out — Schuette, Schultz.