Effingham Daily News
Dieterich and Altamont each had two shots to win Friday's National Trail Conference tournament semifinal in a flashy, highlight-reel way, but nothing fell in.
Instead, the game ended with Altamont's Garrett Ziegler at the free throw line, making two free throws to preserve the Indians' 45-41 overtime win.
Ziegler made a 3-pointer with 2:49 left in overtime to give Altamont a three-point lead, but Dieterich battled back. Alex Bohnhoff came up with a steal at half court, was fouled and made two free throws to draw within one point with 2:03 remaining.
The Indians, whose offense held the ball for the final 1:30 of the fourth quarter, fumbled away an opportunity to do the same after bobbling a pass out of bounds.
The tables were turned with Dieterich taking over possession with 1:31 left in the overtime period. The Maroons melted the clock to 36 seconds, then called a timeout.
Travis Niemerg caught a pass in the post and tried a layup with two Altamont defenders in his face. The ball bounced off the rim and Niemerg, going for the rebound, was called for an over-the-back foul.
Altamont's Derek Jahraus went to the free throw line and made 1-of-2, allowing Dieterich to stay within two points with 16 seconds left.
The Maroons drew up a play for Tanner Traub to win the game, coming off of a screen and getting an open look at the basket — only to come up short.
“So we rolled the dice on that one,” Dieterich head coach Jeff Staser said. “It was win or lose right there and we came up a little short.”
Ziegler grabbed the rebound and went to the free throw line, making both and sealing the victory.
He had a similar opportunity at the end of regulation, as Altamont had the ball with 1:30 left. The Indians held the ball until there was 20 seconds left and called a timeout.
The ensuing play didn't result in a scoring opportunity, so head coach John Niebrugge called a timeout with 4.9 seconds to play.
“That's not our style (to hold the ball) and I don't really like playing in the 40s,” Niebrugge said. “We figured they're in a zone — best scenario, we hold it, we get the last shot, it goes to overtime.”
That's what happened, after Ziegler missed a 3-point shot and Jahraus missed a desperation fadeaway, after grabbing the offensive rebound.
Two teams that played fast the entire game, slowed it down at the end of regulation and overtime. Staser said he was “OK with that,” knowing Altamont might do what they did at the end of the fourth quarter.
“Ziegler took a 3-pointer and I would've rather had that shot taken than anything else, just like they probably would've had that shot with Tanner (Traub),” Staser said. “Theirs didn't go. Ours didn't go. It is what it is.”
The way the game ended, Niebrugge said, showed how evenly matched the two teams were. Last Friday, Dieterich beat Altamont at home. Last night, Altamont won at home.
“We could play it 10 times and they'd win five and we'd win five, I think,” Niebrugge said.
The win places the Indians in tonight's championship game against top-seeded St. Anthony.
For the Maroons, the loss means they won't defend the NTC tournament title they won last season, but Staser said “we grew as a team a lot tonight.”
“What can you say? It was two teams that were going to battle,” Staser said. “My quote all year has been, 'No matter how much I yell at you, no matter how much I get on you, I want you to understand that you're always welcome at my dinner table.'”
Dieterich will play in the third-place game against Neoga on Saturday.
Alex McNamee can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 123, or email@example.com.
Altamont 9 10 15 5 6 45
Dieterich 17 11 7 4 2 41
Altamont: McGinnis 4, Ziegler 13, Borders 2, Armstrong 7, Seidel 4, Jahraus 7, Mayhaus 8
Dieterich: Traub 13, Bohnhoff 10, Feldhake 6, L. Niemerg 2, Aherin 6, T. Niemerg 4