Effingham Daily News
St. Anthony gave Altamont its best shot, erasing a 13-point deficit to tie the game in the fourth quarter, but Altamont hung on and defeated St. Anthony 70-63 Tuesday.
After entering the fourth quarter up 52-40, Altamont saw its lead quickly dwindle to 57-53 with 4:18 left, forcing coach John Niebrugge to call timeout.
On the inbound play out of the break, Niebrugge was given a technical foul, allowing John Goeckner to hit two free throws and score on the ensuing possession to tie the game at 57-57.
The crowd reached a boiling point, but Altamont stayed cool from there and held on down the stretch to move to 22-3 and 6-1 in the NTC.
"To come to St. Anthony and win is monumental. Not too many teams do that," Niebrugge said. "The boys responded well, I'm pleased to see that. I'm fighting for them, but I was happy to see the boys didn't cower when the crowd got up."
St. Anthony had a number of looks from outside down the stretch to tie the game or take the lead, but after tying the game, they'd never get closer than one, down 62-61 with 1:18 left. Altamont scored eight of the next 10 points to put the game away.
Altamont's defense fed its offense, and while St. Anthony adjusted, they couldn't take control of the game in the waning moments.
"Their effort was tremendous in the second half," said St. Anthony coach Cody Rincker. "For our boys to keep working, keep pushing, keep fighting, it says a lot about their guts and character."
It was the teams' third meeting this year, with St. Anthony winning at the Vandalia Holiday Tournament, but Altamont won at the NTC tournament and on Tuesday night.
The win dropped St. Anthony to 8-1, and they can finish no worse than tied for the conference regular season title if Altamont beats Stew-Stras and Cowden-Herrick on Friday and Saturday. Dieterich can also share the title if the Movin' Maroons win Friday against Cowden-Herrick.
St. Anthony led early, taking a lead early and pushing it to 16-10 in the final seconds of the quarter. Garrett Ziegler responded with a long three for Altamont, his first points of the night, to cut it to three points.
He'd finish the night with 32, getting bigger as the game went on and giving Altamont the push to take the lead in the second quarter and never look back.
"That's probably a career game for him, I don't know if he's ever scored 32," Niebrugge said. "Not many more superlatives you can give Garrett."
St. Anthony hung around as Altamont keyed Goeckner, Neil Williams and Alex Hoelscher. Matt Gibson, Frank Jansen, and Andrew and Zach Gardewine stepped up in the scoring department to help stem the tide, and Williams, Gibson and Goeckner helped close the gap and tie the game.
It wasn't enough for the Bulldogs (18-9, 8-1), but to see Gibson score 13 points for St. Anthony on Senior Night was a good sign against a tough Altamont defense.
"It's been a while since he had a game where he put the ball in the hole like that ... hopefully we can see a little more of that down the stretch," Rincker said. "They pressured the wings hard, they pressured the ball hard. It wasn't anything we weren't expecting."
Goeckner finished with 14 and Williams had 11 for St. Anthony.
Aaron Goeckner had nine points off the bench for Altamont, while Derek Jahraus had seven in support of Ziegler's huge night.
Altamont is looking to share the title with two wins, in support of its NTC tournament title.
"That's a double ring, I guess," Niebrugge said." (We want to) put that on the mantle also."
St. Anthony heads Casey-Westfield Friday, while Altamont hosts Stew-Stras.
Altamont 13 24 15 18 70
St. Anthony 16 10 14 23 63
Altamont: Jackman 2, McGinnis 5, Ziegler 32, Borders 3, A. Goeckner 9, Armstrong 2, Wolff 4, Seidel 6, Jahraus 7
St. Anthony: Williams 11, Jansen 5, Gibson 13, A. Gardewine 6, Z. Gardewine 6, Goeckner 14, Hartke 2, Rios 4, Hoelscher 2