The Effingham Hearts were determined not to let Teutopolis center Kyle Pruemer beat them on Tuesday night in T-Town.
Clark Williamson, Tim Gardewine and Jake and Josh Stombaugh all took turns guarding the big man and holding him to just two points in the game.
But, Derek Smith and the Wooden Shoes' guards took over the game, leading T-Town to a 43-36 victory.
Smith lead all scorers with 16 points, scoring eight of the Shoes' nine first quarter points.
"I was just looking for my shot and trying to be aggressive," Smith said of his first quarter dominance. "They were all down low guarding Kyle, so it left us guards open."
"He got us going," Teutopolis coach Andy Fehrenbacher said. "He made some big plays early."
Devin Falbe, another Shoes guard, only scored one point in the first half and missed a couple open layups, but had eight second half points and hit all four of his free throws in the fourth quarter to help ice the game.
Fehrenbacher said he was proud of the way Falbe responded at halftime after a disappointing first half.
"He was pretty vocal, but very upbeat," Fehrenbacher said. "You could tell he was ready to get back on the floor. He can make some pretty flashy plays; those energy plays are what our guys expect from him."
Reed Hardiek, another guard, provided a late spark off the bench for Teutopolis. He had five points in the game, and they all came in the fourth quarter as the Shoes fought to hold off the Hearts' late surge.
Fehrenbacher said that even though the Hearts did a great job stopping Pruemer from scoring, he still did plenty of good things for the Shoes.
"Even though he only had one bucket, he had 11 or 12 rebounds," Fehrenbacher said. "You've got to hand it to him, being able to stay on the court that long and stay out of foul trouble."
Both coaches agreed that the game wasn't pretty, but neither was surprised at how hard their players played.
"It was a great team effort; everybody who played for us played extremely hard and did some good things," Fehrenbacher said. "We knew it was going to be a struggle. Any time Teutopolis and Effingham meet up, it's going to be a dog fight."
"I thought both teams made it difficult on each other," Effingham coach Ron Reed said. "We both got after each other and really fought hard."
Ultimately, the game came down to Teutopolis making free throws in the fourth quarter to fend off the Hearts.
"We were able to get some stops and make some free throws down the stretch," Fehrenbacher said.
Reed added that the Shoes simply made more open shots than the Hearts did.
"They were able to make some open looks when they got them and we didn't," he said. "My group really hung in there. They kind of let us hang around, but they were able to keep us from getting within one point or tying it up."
But, Reed said he was proud of the way his team fought and hopes the Hearts don't get down on themselves after the tough loss.
"Coming over here is a challenge; it's a tough place to play," he said. "Our kids shouldn't hang their heads about it. I think they played well enough to maybe come out of here with a win. Hopefully it will make us better down the road."
Effingham fell to 5-2 with the loss. The Hearts will be back in action on Friday at home against Mt. Zion.
Teutopolis improved to 6-1. The Shoes have a tough road test on Saturday, when they travel to Robinson to take on the state-ranked Maroons.
Smith said the Shoes just need to continue improving defensively as they get ready for one of their biggest challenges of the season.
"It always starts on defense," he said. "We need to keep working as a team and prepare for Robinson."
Effingham 8 7 7 14 36
Teutopolis 9 7 11 16 43
Effingham: Keith 9 pts., Stombaugh, Ja. 7, Williamson 6, Lark 5, Knight 4, Stombaugh, Jo. 3, Carie 2
Teutopolis: Smith 16 pts., Falbe 9, Schultz 6, Hardiek 5, Waldhoff 3, Pruemer 2, Mette 2
Teutopolis's Derek Smith attempts a shot but is blocked by Effingham's Clark Williamson Tuesday during the Wooden Shoes' 45-36 victory at Teutopolis. Smith led the scoring with 16 points.
Genna Ord photo