Senators edge Cougars in extra minutes

Trinity Lutheran’s boys basketball team just can’t seem to make enough good plays at crunch time to get into the win column.

Trinity held a 70-66 lead against West Washington following a 3-point basket by Mitchell Hackman with 1:10 left in the fourth period Saturday night.

The Cougars then watched the Senators outscore them 5-1 in the final minute to force overtime.

[sc:text-divider text-divider-title=”Story continues below gallery” ]Click here to purchase photos from this gallery

The Senators scored the first nine points of overtime, outscored the Cougars 14-7 in the extra period, and left the Bollinger Athletic Complex with an 85-78 win that extended Trinity’s loss string to six games.

“We weren’t as aggressive in the overtime, both offense and defense, as we needed to be,” Cougars coach Brian Stuckwisch said. “They broke us down on defense and got to the basket. Our help side came over and our other helper didn’t drop down.

“They scored a couple easy baskets and got a 3-point play right away and the momentum went to their side, and we were playing from behind after that.”

The Cougars didn’t score in the overtime until Jack Marksberry dropped in a layup with 1:45 remaining. Marksberry scored a basket off an offensive rebound for Trinity’s only other basket with 20 seconds left in the extra period.

The Senators had two baskets and made 10 of 18 free throws in overtime.

The first quarter was a battle of moves to the basket by Hackman and three pointers by three different Senators resulting in an 18-16 lead for the visitors.

A.J. Goecker came out hot for the Cougars in the second period with four 2-point baskets and a pair of 3-pointers for 14 points. Holden Bowsman had four baskets and Parker Green scored 12 points for the Senators during that time to spark their team to a 39-33 lead at the half.

The teams traded points in the third period with 16 each for a 55-49 score going into the fourth period.

The Cougars opened the fourth period on a 9-0 run with Tyler Goecker scoring five points on two baskets, and A.J. Goecker converted a 3-point play at 6:33 to give Trinity a 58-55 lead.

Stuckwisch found several positives to take away from the game.

“I thought our ball movement was pretty good,” he said. “We penetrated real well and got to the basket several times. I thought we had them in foul trouble by getting to the basket. Other than that, just playing together and moving the ball around was the biggest thing.”

The Cougars outscored the Senators 22-14 in 2-point field goals. The Senators hurt the Cougars with 3-pointers by making 11 compared to six for Trinity, and the Senators made 24 of 35 free throws to 16 of 21 for Trinity.

Stuckwisch said he was surprised the Senators made as many 3-pointers as they did.

“It seems like that is something that is our Achilles’ heel,” he said. “Most teams, for some reason, shoot real well against us. I don’t know if it’s our defense. The second half I don’t think they shot as well as they did in the first half. Our man-to-man worked better than the zone. We’ll just have to go back to practice and start working on that.”

Trinity had five players in double figures Friday against Southwestern, and followed up with four in double digits against the Senators as Tyler Goecker scored 20, A.J. Goecker 19, Hackman 17 and Marksberry 14.

Stuckwicsh said, “Hackman’s been starting the last three games, and he’s gaining experience and playing better all the time. He don’t play like a freshman any more.”

Marksberry and Hackman topped the Cougars in rebound with eight apiece.

Green topped the Senators (2-3) with 28 points and Bowsman scored 22.

Stuckwisch said he felt like his team did a good job battling the Senators on the boards early in the game, but didn’t hit the boards as hard as he would have liked at the end.

“We’re going to have to learn how to get on the shooters a little better, quicker, and get a hand in their face and at least contest the shot,” he said. “On the rest of our defense we’ve to rotate quicker and faster and anticipate the rotation.

“We were playing too aggressive when we were behind, and when we got the lead we didn’t back off. We stayed aggressive and that probably hurt us.”

The Cougars (1-6) will travel to Switzerland County Friday night.