Ruff

Altamont’s Mitch Ruff (30) drives around Stewardson-Strasburg’s Chris Koontz during the third place game Saturday.

The consolation championship turned out to be just as close as most of the competition during National Trail Conference Boys Basketball Tournament week Saturday.

Neoga edged Brownstown 48-44 to claim the consy title. The third-place contest went to Altamont over Stewardson-Strasburg 79-67.

Consolation Championship

Brownstown, the No. 7 seed, continued its good play in the tournament by giving No. 5 Neoga all it wanted Saturday afternoon.

The Bombers connected on three of five shots in the opening quarter and hit four free throws in taking an 11-6 lead. Neoga had four turnovers in the period, while the Bombers had only two.

But Neoga finally gathered itself together for a 17-5 second period run to lead 23-16 at halftime. Austin Robinson came in off the bench to produce seven points for the Indians as they hit over 50 percent which included three trifectas. Neoga held its turnover total down to one in the quarter, while forcing Brownstown into five. The Bombers went cold from the field, connecting on only one of six attempts.

But Brownstown regrouped at halftime. The Bombers' Michael Kramer connected on an old-fashioned three-point play to start the quarter. Neoga held a 26-21 lead before Jared Winters knocked down a three-pointer and Levi Tackett hit a rebound basket to knot the score at 26-26. The two teams exchanged turnovers before Tackett connected on another old-fashioned three-pointer and pushed the Bombers ahead 29-26.

Bryn Price put in two free throws, but Zach Rigdon, a 6-foot-0 sophomore, tallied a basket for a 31-28 lead going into the final period.

Neoga regained the lead on free throws by Price with 7:02 in the final quarter. Brownstown tied on free throws by Winters with 6:45 showing. But that was the last gasp for the Bombers.

Neoga went on a run as Cody Boarman nailed two free throws and Price put in a basket for a 38-32 lead. A Bomber time out with 5:23 halted the flow for a while. Cody Robbins connected on two free throws and Kramer hit a basket to pull the Bombers back within 38-36.

But the Indians went ahead 39-36 on free throws by A. Robinson. Four turnovers later, Boarman stole the ball and hit a layup and the Indians were ahead 41-36. A. Robinson connected on a free throw and the lead went to 42-36 with 1:54 showing.

Although Brownstown pulled back within 44-40 with 30.4 seconds left, Neoga hit its free throws down the stretch to claim the win.

A. Robinson tallied 16 points for the winners, while Price added 10. Dalton Robinson and Jordan Russell had four rebounds each as the Indians were outrebounded by Brownstown 20-17. Neoga had seven fewer turnovers.

"We didn't play well and I was disappointed with our play," said Neoga Coach Jason Hanson. "We're going to have to play harder if we're going to compete with teams. I'm not happy where we're at right now.

"One thing we did do is we had guys step in and pick up the intensity level. We didn't give them many easy looks."

Brownstown was led by Kramer with 12 and Robbins with 11. The leading scorer, Winters, was held to six. Carl Sefton and Tackett led in rebounds with six each.

"I'm very proud of the guys," said Brownstown Coach Adam Bussard. "Neoga made the few extra plays they had to to win. You have to play four quarters of basketball and we didn't quite do that today. I thought Cody Robbins had a nice tournament and Levi played well today. He cleaned the glass. Sefton is our little engine that could and he plays hard. Winters and Kramer did their jobs."

Third-Place Game

After being dominated by Teutopolis in the semifinals, Altamont High School came roaring out of the chute and controlled Stewardson-Strasburg in this one.

Altamont played a controlled game with only one turnover in the opening half on an offensive foul and only a total of seven for the contest.

The Indians edged out to a 19-16 lead as the score flipped back and forth in the first quarter with three lead changes and two ties. Stew-Stras went ahead 13-10 with 2:33 showing on a three-pointer by Jaden Widdersheim. The Comets held that lead until 1:29 when Brian Suckow knocked down a three-pointer. A basket by Landon Duckwitz gave the Indians a 19-16 lead.

The second period didn't start off quite so well for the Indians as they missed four shot attempts to start the period, three from trifecta land. But the Comets were little better as they turned over the ball giving Altamont a chance again and Suckow hit a basket for a 21-16 lead.

Altamont got on a roll and pushed ahead 30-20 when Mitch Ruff found the range on an old-fashioned three-point play, then put in a regular basket. The Indians went on another mini-run, this one producing seven straight points for a 37-22 lead.

But here came the Comets. Starting at the 1:54 mark, Stew-Stras scored eight straight points to pull within 40-29. But Altamont regained the momentum and held a 45-31 halftime tally.

"I thought we played flat in the first half," said Stew-Stras Coach Mike Walker. "We couldn't get everybody going."

"We had a stretch of three good games and we worked so hard that we were kind of in a haze," said Altamont Coach Doug Hill. "We decided this game we were going to run and we wanted to score in the 80s."

It was an uphill battle for the Comets, but they came out in the second half pulling within 10 at the 3:10 mark in the third period. Altamont was hitting just a little under 50 percent but managed a 62-51 lead going into the final quarter.

Stew-Stras just couldn't get over the hump, although Josh Tabbert attempted to get them back. The 6-foot-6 senior connected on five of five from the field for 10 of his team's 16 points in the final quarter. But the Comets just couldn't make up that first half deficit.

Altamont continued to roll and almost put together the 80 points, just falling a point shy.

"Stew-Stras knocked down some big shots," said Hill. "It was always a ballgame. We were setting good screens and we weren't putting ourselves into trouble with the basketball. Ruff just played an unbelievable game and he also played well against Teutopolis. Although I thought he also did well defensively, Jaden Widdersheim still got 18 points.

"When we got in trouble, Kyle Kuhns and Jordan McGinnis came in off the bench to give us good minutes."

The Indians were led by Ruff with 21 points, Suckow with 18 and Duckwitz with 14. Devin Frailey and Ruff pulled down six rebounds each. Kieffer McCarron and Greg Sperry tallied nine points each. McCarron, who fouled out with around three minutes remaining in the contest, is now just 11 points shy of 1,000 points in his career.

Stew-Stras was led by Tabbert with 19, Widdersheim with 18 and Will Rincker with 14. Chris Koontz led in rebounds with eight as the Comets had a 30-26 margin. Stew-Stras finished with 13 turnovers compared to only seven for the Indians.

"I thought we made too many turnovers and most of the time it was just us doing silly things," said Walker. "We just made decisions that weren't good ones. I'm proud of the fact we didn't quit though. Getting down in the first half, we could have rolled it up. If we could have had a couple of shots fall, it could have been a different outcome."

Millie Lange can be reached at 217-347-7151 ext. 123 or millie.lange@effinghamdailynews.com.

74th National Trail Conference Tournament

Consolation Championship

BROWNSTOWN (44)


Sefton 0-1 0-0 0, Kramer 3-4 5-5 12, Winters 2-9 1-3 6, Robbins 4-9 2-2 11, Tackett 3-4 3-3 9, Rigdon 2-3 2-4 6. TOTALS 14-30 FG (46.6) 13-17 FT (76.4)

NEOGA (48)

D. Robinson 2-6 0-0 5, Massengill 1-2 0-1 2, Russell 3-8 0-0 6, Letizia 0-1 0-0 0, Boarman 2-4 2-2 7, Price 3-6 4-4 10, A. Robinson 4-10 7-11 16, Cornell 0-1 0-0 0, Blair 1-2 0-0 2. TOTALS 16-40 FG (40.0) 13-18 FT (72.2)

Brownstown---11----5---15---13---—---44

Neoga----------6---17----5---20---—---48


3-point FG — Brownstown 3-11 (Kramer 1-2, Winters 1-4, Robbins 1-4, Rigdon 0-1), Neoga 3-7 (D. Robinson 1-2, Russell 0-1, Boarman 1-2, A. Robinson 1-2). Rebounds — Brownstown 20 (Sefton 6, Tackett 6), Neoga 17 (D. Robinson 4, Russell 4). Total fouls — Brownstown 17, Neoga 16. Fouled out — Brownstown 1 (Sefton). Turnovers — Brownstown 17, Neoga 10. Officials — Bell, Feldhake, Grigg.

Third-Place Game

STEW-STRAS (67)


Rincker 4-15 4-5 14, Widdersheim 5-10 3-4 18, Hoene 3-4 0-0 6, T. Ballinger 2-8 1-2 6, Tabbert 8-17 3-4 19, Koontz 2-4 0-0 4, Brandt 0-0 0-0 0, Becker 0-0 0-0 0, H. Ballinger 0-0 0-0 0. TOTALS 24-58 FG (41.3) 11-15 FT (73.3)

ALTAMONT (79)

L. Duckwitz 5-6 2-2 14, Suckow 8-15 0-0 18, Sperry 4-7 1-1 9, McCarron 3-10 1-2 9, Frailey 2-12 4-4 8, Ruff 9-13 2-2 21, McGinnis 0-0 0-0 0, Kuhns 0-1 0-1 0. TOTALS 31-64 FG (48.4) 10-12 FT (83.3)

Stew-Stras---16---15---20---16---—---67

Altamont-----19---26---17---17---—---79


3-point FG — Stew-Stras 8-23 (Rincker 2-9, Widdersheim 5-9, T. Ballinger 1-5), Altamont 7-20 (L. Duckwitz 2-3, Suckow 2-4, McCarron 2-5, Frailey 0-7, Ruff 1-1). Rebounds — Stew-Stras 30 (Koontz 8, Tabbert 6), Altamont 26 (Frailey 6, Ruff 6). Total fouls — Stew-Stras 14, Altamont 14. Fouled out — Altamont 1 (McCarron). Turnovers — Stew-Stras 13, Altamont 7. Officials — J. Lidy, D. Lidy, Meinhart.

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