Cougars lose to Switzerland County


Down by one with 8.4 seconds remaining, Trent Shoemaker furiously brought the ball up the court for the Trinity Lutheran boys’ basketball team.

When he reached the top of the key, Switzerland County trapped him. Shoemaker made the best pass he could down the middle of the lane to AJ Goecker and Goecker momentarily lost possession before managing to lob up a shot.

The ball hit the rim three times and looked as though it was going to go in, but fate wouldn’t allow it and the Cougars found themselves in a bitter 59-58 defeat at the Bollinger Athletic Complex on Friday night.

The Pacers had taken the lead moments earlier on a 3-point play from Kyle Whitham in a game that was close throughout. In fact, at each quarter’s end, the lead was either tied or within one possession.

The Cougars had a four-point lead late in the game, but had some costly fouls. The Pacers were clutch from the line with Austin South and Whitham going perfect from the line with less than 30 seconds left. South’s two free throws set up Whitham’s go ahead three-point play.

Cougars’ coach Brian Stuckwisch said the loss was a tough one to take, but he was proud of the way his team fought against a tough Switzerland County team throughout the night.

“I’m not disappointed, I think we’re getting better every day,” he said. “I know these younger guys hate losing and it’s tough on their confidence, but we’ll bounce back and be alright.”

AJ Goecker led the Cougars with 19 points followed by Shoemaker with 16.

The game started off quick for the Pacers as they scored two quick baskets to take a 4-0 lead. The Cougars answered right back with a basket from Josh Rowe and three pointer from AJ Goecker to give the Cougars a 5-4 lead. The Pacers turned the ball over and the Cougars scored a basket, but the Pacers answered right back with a three from Aden Jones to make it 7-7.

The two teams continued to battle and exchanged possessions in the remainder of the opening quarter. Both teams played a little sloppy in the second part of the first quarter with both turning the ball over three times. The two teams combined for eight turnovers in the first quarter with the Pacers recording five of the eight.

The Pacers led the Cougars 17-15 at the end of the first quarter.

The second quarter was just as close as the opening quarter. The Cougars were able to outscore the Pacers 11-10 in the second quarter. Both teams turned the ball over twice in the second quarter and there was a period in which both teams could not score for nearly three minutes. The Cougars narrowed the Pacers’ lead to one and went to the locker room down 27-26 at the half.

AJ Goecker led the Cougars with 13 points in the first half while Kyle Whitham led the Pacers with eight.

The Cougars looked as though they were going to let the Pacers build a lead to open the third quarter as the Pacers jumped to a 33-28 lead. But Goecker’s basket and a three by Shoemaker made it 33-33.

Just when the Pacers looked as though they might pull away, the Cougars would answer at the right moment. One of those moments came toward the end of the third when he tied the game at 40 with a three from downtown. AJ Goecker added another basket for the Cougars and the Pacers’ Austin South added a basket as time expired to end the quarter in a 42-42 tie.

The Pacers came out strong offensively to open the fourth quarter and the Cougars used two three-point plays to keep the game tied at 48 with five minutes to go.

That set up an interesting fourth quarter, but the Cougars could not pull off the win.

“Both teams played hard,” Stuckwisch said. “The story of this year has been rebounds and defense and I don’t know the stats, but we probably got outrebounded tonight.”

Stuckwisch was right as the Cougars managed only 16 boards to the Pacers’ 29.

Stuckwisch said his team played well and had an opportunity to win.

“We had a chance to win it there at the end and that’s all you ask for; a chance to win at the end.”

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