Effingham Daily News
For the first time since 1995, the National Trail Conference will have a champion other than Teutopolis or St. Anthony.
That took a backseat Wednesday night, historically speaking, as St. Anthony's 61-year streak of winning a quarterfinal game at the NTC tournament was snapped.
After St. Anthony downed Stew-Stras 60-45 last Friday night, leading nearly the entire way, the two teams' quarterfinal game was the polar opposite of that game.
Stew-Stras led from start to finish, and despite a late Bulldog run, the Comets downed St. Anthony 65-55 Wednesday night.
The third-seeded Comets advance to the semifinals, where they face second-seeded Altamont. Top seed Dieterich faces fourth-seeded Cowden-Herrick.
Stew-Stras was the last non-Teutopolis or St. Anthony team to win the tournament in 1995. Altamont won it 1990, Cowden last won the tournament in 1952 and Dieterich has never won it.
The Comets were punishing inside all night, grabbing rebound after rebound and coming out of the gates on fire. They scored the first eight points of the game, and jumped out to a 19-10 lead at the end of the first quarter.
St. Anthony kept battling, eventually cutting the lead to 22-14. The Comets kept pushing the ball inside, extending their lead to 35-20 before halftime, and taking a 35-22 lead to the locker room.
The Bulldogs began the game with John Goeckner in the starting lineup after he missed Monday's game with injuries against Windsor. He had one first-half bucket, and did not play at all after the halftime break.
They missed him inside, as Justin Fulk scored the first seven points of the second half and the Comets led by 18.
The lead would remain in double digits for the rest of the quarter, as the Comets entered the bonus late in the third, setting the tone for the rest of the game.
Down 52-36 at the end of the third, St. Anthony upped the pressure and tempo in an attempt to stage a comeback.
And for most of the fourth quarter, it did work. The Bulldogs kept on the pressure, forcing Stew-Stras to the line. Outside of their first two trips early in the quarter, the Comets struggled to hit their free throws and the Bulldogs scratched their way back into the game.
After trailing 57-38, St. Aanthony went on a 13-1 run to cut the lead to seven points at 58-51. Stew-Stras hit its first field goal of the quarter with just more than a minute to play, only to have St. Anthony cut the lead to 62-55 with 54 seconds left.
That would be as close as they'd get, as the shots stopped falling and Stew-Stras made three of their next six free throws.
Fulk finished with 19 points for the Comets while Brandon Helmuth added 18 points.
Schuette topped all scorers with 20 points for St. Anthony and Charlie Schultz had 13 points of his own.
St. Anthony will head to the consolation bracket, where they will face 10th-seeded South Central at 6:15 p.m. Friday.
Stew-Stras' matchup with the hosting Altamont Indians will begin at about 7:45 p.m. Friday, following the completion of the Bulldogs/Cougars game.
Stew-Stras 65, St. Anthony 55
St. Anthony 10 12 14 19 - 55
Stew-Stras 19 16 17 13 - 65
St. Anthony - Williams 5, Schuette 20, Schultz 13, A. Gardewine 7, Hoelscher 6, Goeckner 2, Vogel 2
Stew-Stras - Helmuth 18, Helton 2, Roley 4, Becker 8, Luce 6, Fry 8, Fulk 19