Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

February 22, 2014

Indians hold off Comets 51-39

Altamont can clinch share of NTC today

Alex McNamee
Effingham Daily News

ALTAMONT — Stew-Stras head coach Shane Smith knew Altamont's Garrett couldn't guard Brandon Helmuth in the post.

The Comets exploited the mismatch to get Helmuth six points in the first half and take a one-point lead into halftime, so Altamont head coach John Niebrugge adjusted his strategy.

Cole Borders took Ziegler's defensive assignment and limited the Comets' star to four points in the last two quarters of the Indians' 51-39 win Friday.

“Coach Smith had a nice game plan,” Niebrugge said. “It started out working pretty well. We kind of matched their size a little bit.”

Jahraus guarded Jason Fry for the remainder of the game and forced a few costly turnovers with his size, but Altamont might have been lost without Aaron Goeckner.

Goeckner practically carried the Indians back into the game after they trailed by seven points early.

His only 3-pointer of the game gave the Indians their first lead, 21-20, with 2:30 to play in the first half. He scored 11 of the Indians' 15 points in the second quarter.

“When he's shooting it well, it makes him that much more of a dual threat,” Niebrugge said. “He's a big part of what we're trying to do.”

Matt Kuhns, getting the start on Altamont's Senior Night, scored all four of his points in the first quarter, coming out with an unmatched energy, Niebrugge said.

Goeckner's fastbreak layup with 51 seconds left in the third quarter gave Altamont its first two-possession lead of the game, 33-29.

The Indians took a three-point lead into the fourth quarter and gradually built on it, as the Comets began feeling their tired legs.

“We ran out of gas,” Smith said. “This is the kind of heart my guys have. They play so hard for guys so undersized and underweight they go out and give it their all.”

Altamont's depth overwhelmed the Comets, especially after Bryse Bugger fouled out of the game with 10 points, with 3:50 to play in the fourth quarter.

The Indians forced the Comets to work harder than they were capable of with tired legs in the quarter, Smith said, so their offense lost its flow.

“We wanted the score to be in the mid-40s and we pretty much did that,” Smith said. “We didn't match their scoring in the last five minutes of the ball game.”

Garrett Ziegler helped the Indians close out the win, making his only 3-pointer of the game to give them seven-point lead. He later grabbed a steal and picked up an assist on a Jake Seidel fastbreak layup that countered a small Stew-Stras run and take an eight-point lead.

Ziegler finished with 12 points, one point behind Goeckner's game-high 13. Justin McGinnis went 4-for-4 from the free throw line, down the stretch, scoring eight of his 10 points in the final quarter.

The win closed out the Indians' undefeated home record this season and they are 23-3. They'll close out the regular season at 3 p.m. today at Cowden-Herrick, and clinch a share of the NTC regular season title with a win, tying with St. Anthony and Dieterich.

Stew-Stras hosts its Senior Night at 6:15 p.m. today against Beecher City.

Alex McNamee can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 123, or alex.mcnamee@effinghamdailynews.com.

Altamont     8 15 10 18     51

Stew-Stras     15 9 6 9     39

Altamont: McGinnis 10, Ziegler 12, Borders 3, Goeckner 13, Seidel 3, Kuhns 4, Jahraus 6

Stew-Stras: Jones 6, Blythe 5, Helmuth 10, Bugger 10, Fry 8