Trinity Lutheran’s boys basketball team gave its fans a thriller in its home-opener, but didn’t register the final result they’d wanted.
Despite a late rally, the Cougars couldn’t mount a fourth-quarter comeback in a 52-47 loss to Class A No. 11 Hauser on Tuesday at the Bollinger Athletic Complex.
The Cougars pulled within two points in the final minute of play, surmounting a nine-point deficit in the fourth quarter, but couldn’t get the edge.
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While Trinity lit it up from beyond the 3-point arc in the first quarter, the Jets didn’t back down.
The Cougars (1-2) opened the game on an 8-0 run behind 3-pointers from Kaedon Bright, off the bench, and A.J. Goecker before the Jets (2-1) answered with seven consecutive points.
Goecker and Bright each added another trey to put the Cougars up 14-10, but a basket and pair of free throws by the Jets’ Trey Johnson tied the game for the first time at 14, with 14.5 seconds on the clock.
At the buzzer, Trinity’s Trent Shoemaker hit a runner in the lane to put the Cougars back on top 16-14.
Johnson had 10 of the Jets’ 14 points — almost exclusively on layups — in the first quarter while the Cougars made 4 of 7 3-point attempts.
In a low-scoring, turnover-plagued second quarter, the Cougars maintained the lead.
Trinity scored six straight in the first four minutes of the second quarter before the Jets closed the half on a 5-0 run.
At the break, the Cougars led 24-23.
The teams combined for 24 turnovers in the first half, with Trinity coughing the ball up 13 times to the Jets’ 11 giveaways. In the second quarter, the Cougars had nine turnovers and the Jets had seven.
After the teams exchanged baskets out of the break, the Jets found some rhythm.
Hauser went on a 9-0 run to lead 34-26 with with 3:24 left in the third quarter. In that span, Will Trotter scored five straight for the Jets.
In the next few minutes, Jets maintained the lead while the Cougars racked up seven fouls.
Going into the final eight minutes of play, the Jets led 41-33.
Trinity committed its 10th foul with 6:34 left in regulation, but was still able to chip away at the deficit.
Three straight baskets, behind three different scorers for the Cougars, tied the game at 43 with 3:20 left.
The Jets responded with six straight points to retake the lead, and would hold the advantage the rest of the way, but Trinity had its chances.
The Jets were called for three straight travels in a minute’s span, and the Cougars scored on each attempt to bring the score to 49-47 with possession.
Trinity couldn’t capitalize on the potential game-tying field goal, and the Jets hit 3 of 4 free throws in the final 22 seconds to seal the victory.
Cougars coach Brian Stuckwisch credited the Cougars’ defense in getting back in the game.
“I think the press helped a lot,” Stuckwisch said. “We put a lot of pressure on them and they had a lot of turnovers. They had travels on the full court. Us doing that put us back in the game.”
Goecker had 17 points to lead the Cougars and Bright added 12. No other player score more than four points for Trinity.
Bright, a junior guard, is in his first year with the Cougars’ program.
“Kaedon was a transfer from Seymour this year. He didn’t play at Seymour at all,” Stuckwisch said. “He actually hasn’t played since eighth grade. He is getting better every day and working hard in practice.”
Johnson topped the Jets with 17 points to go along with 12 rebounds, Trotter chipped in 15 — all in the second half — and Austin Cord had nine.
The Jets outrebounded the Cougars 27-17, but lost the turnover margin 24-21.
“We’re very disappointed we didn’t win, but we saw a lot of good things happen tonight,” Stuckwisch said. “Being down 10 points, they didn’t give up. They got right back in it. We hit a couple more shots at the end and it could have been a win for us and not them. Most games you want to give yourself a chance to win, and we did.”
The Cougars have lost back-to-back game, and will host South Ripley on Friday.
“Coming off two losses, Madison and Hauser are both fundamentally sound. I think as long as the kids don’t get down and disappointed, I think it’s a good experience for them and will help us later in the season.”