For The Tribune
Allison Bushong drained a 3-pointer for Southwestern (Hanover) with 15 seconds left, and Trinity Lutheran missed a couple chances in the closing moments as the Rebels escaped the Cougars 50-49 on Saturday at the Bollinger Athletic Complex
After Bushong’s basket, the Cougars’ Jodi Goecker toed the free-throw line for the Cougars and hit one of two. After missing the second free throw, the Rebels lost the rebound out of bounds that gave the ball back to the Cougars with 0.3 seconds left.
However, the Cougars couldn’t get off a shot, and the Rebels left with the 50-49 win, the closest margin in a game for Trinity Lutheran this season.
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“If we tried to come out and play them man, they were getting to the free-throw line on every drive they made, so we were not moving our feet defensively,” Trinity Lutheran coach Mike Lang said. “It’s a chance we started to pack it in, and on film they are not a great 3-point shooting team and that girl (Bushong) buried it, so hats off to her.”
The fourth quarter was a back-and-forth affair.
With 3:41 remaining in the game, Lang was whistled for a technical foul, and the Rebels hit one free throw for a 42-39 lead.
But the Cougars responded quickly.
Whitney Rogers made a basket, and Maddie Roark hit a 3-pointer for the Cougars to give them the 44-42 lead.
The Rebels and Cougars traded leads several times until Goecker put the Cougars up 48-47 with a jump shot to set up the final theatrics.
After getting in foul trouble in the first quarter, Roark finished the game to lead the Cougars with 17 points. Whitney Rogers and Sydney Stuckwisch each had nine points.
Bushong scored a game-high 21 points to lead the Rebels (8-9).
Free throw shooting was a challenge for both teams as the Rebels were 12 of 30, while the Cougars were 8 of 16. With the Rebels missing 18 from the foul line, they kept the Cougars around.
“We missed our fair share of free throws too,” Lang said. “I know we had a 1-and-1 and missed some down the stretch. It stings that we lost, but we finished the game with three freshmen and two sophomores on the floor against five seniors.”
Goecker came off the bench in the first quarter and drained a 3-pointer at the 2:15 mark for a 10-7 lead. The Rebels hit two free throws to cut the lead to one, but Stuckwisch made two free throws and Kaitlyn Wright hit her second 3-pointer of the quarter to give the Cougars the 15-11 lead after one quarter.
The game went back-and-forth in the second quarter as the Rebels tied the game at 19-all with a free throw. Stuckwisch hit a free throw and Roark hit a 3-pointer for the 23-19 lead. Bushong was able to cut the lead to 23-22 at halftime with a 3-pointer.
Roark gave the Cougars a 25-22 lead in the third quarter, but two free throws later the Rebels were down one. Roark and Rogers hit back-to-back 3-pointers for the 31-24 lead. Piper Acton put the Cougars back up four, 33-29, but the Rebels went on a 6-0 run to take a 35-33 lead.
Roark hit a lay-up to tie the game at 35-35, but Michaela Mahoney hit a free throw for the 36-35 lead after three quarters. Both teams traded baskets early in the fourth quarter as Stuckwisch forced a 39-39 tie by hitting a jumper in the lane.
“We are very excited for the growth of our team and happy with the direction we are headed,” Lang said. “Each game you see us improving and getting better. Today there are no winner and loser except for the scoreboard. Both teams played hard. Like I told my team after the game I am proud of them.”
The Cougars (6-9) will host New Washington on Thursday.