Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL


January 14, 2013

Patoka surge earns them comeback win over Altamont

PATOKA — Altamont found out Saturday what St. Elmo discovered the night before and Cowden-Herrick experienced back in November.

Tiny Patoka (enrollment 79) is no pushover.

The scrappy Warriors (11-5) rallied from a seven-point deficit in the final four minutes to upset the Indians 61-60 in a wild nonconference matinee.

Johnnie Clift capped Patoka's comeback - and his 25-point, 11-rebound performance - with a pair of clutch free throws with six seconds to go, and Altamont finished a point short of forcing overtime after Derek Jahraus' 3-pointer bounced through the hoop at the buzzer.

The Indians, who have now lost three of their last four, never truly got going on Saturday after a solid effort on Friday in a win against North Clay.

"Our heads were in the clouds from the first second," Altamont coach John Niebrugge said. "Is that my fault? I'll take some blame, but sooner or later the boys have to figure it out on their own a little bit. We'll figure what it takes in practice."

The win was the Warriors third this season against an upper-division National Trail Conference opponent, and coach Joey Eddy's team has also knocked off a 13-3 Cisne team.

"They just beat St. Elmo last night, so we knew they were a decent team," Niebrugge said. "Hats off to coach Eddy and Patoka. They played a good game."

The Warriors jumped out to an early eight-point lead, 13-5, thanks to some nifty passing, only to watch the Indians battle back with a 16-2 run that had them leading by six.

Altamont took a five-point lead into halftime despite shooting just 32 percent from the field and turning the ball over eight times in the first 16 minutes.

The Warriors coughed the ball up 10 times in the first half, however, and made just 33 percent of their field goals.

Patoka found its touch in the third quarter, hitting 8 of 12 from the field, helping it rally to take its first lead since the third quarter.

Altamont finished the third on a high note though, as Logan Hill's 3-pointer evened the game at 38, and the Indians finally appeared to be pulling away in the fourth.

After Clift missed a pair of free throws - and a chance to tie the game at 47 - Ziegler found a cutting Cole Borders for a layup that put Altamont up 49-45.

Ziegler followed with a bucket in transition off a Warriors miss, and he hit 1 of 2 free throws after causing a Patoka turnover directly thereafter, giving the Indians a 52-45 lead with 4:18 to go.

Things looked bleak for the host team at that point, but Eddy was able to keep his team's spirits up after calling a timeout.

"I told them, ', we've been here before,'" Eddy said. "We've been down in just about every game we've played. Our defense has been solid. I said, "You guys will get stops.' And I had faith they'd hit shots. They don't give up on each other, and they don't quit playing hard. That goes a long way."

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