ST. HENRY — St. Henry’s players looked around at each other with perplexed looks on their faces as the home stretch of the fourth quarter hit and the New Bremen Cardinals weren’t backing down.
New Bremen had the state’s top-ranked team in Division IV frazzled in its own gym.
Carson Manger and Luke Schwieterman each had 20 points and the Cardinals put on a shooting clinic by hitting their final 12 fourth-quarter free throws in a 60-53 win over the No. 1-ranked Redskins on Friday night.
New Bremen at St. Henry Boys Basketball Photos
New Bremen is now atop the Midwest Athletic Conference standings at 6-1, a half-game better than both 5-1 Delphos St. John’s and St. Henry.
“Thats a fun game,” New Bremen head coach Adam Dougherty said. “Both teams played really hard and played really physical. It’s a great thing for our program. They earned it. They came on the road into a tough environment against a really tough team and got it done.”
New Bremen knocked down 24-of-29 free throws in the game. Carson Manger went 10-of-11 from the line, including a big one with 2:57 left to finish off a three-point play that moved it to a two-possession 50-44 lead for New Bremen. New Bremen then hit its next 11 free throw attempts to silence the home crowd that packed into the gym.
St. Henry never got its momentum back in the second half and instead looked lost at times.
“Composure,” St. Henry head coach Eric Rosenbeck said. “That’s not the team I’m used to recognizing. I thought we were pouty. I thought we were whiners. I thought we were complainers. We were so caught up with looking over at the referees that we forgot to play the game of basketball. As a result we missed shots we usually make and made turnovers we usually don’t make. New Bremen deserves all the credit, because they were the team that was ready to play. We didn’t see the New Bremen kids complaining or whining. They just played good, hard physical basketball.”
New Bremen solved the Kyle Stahl dilemma in the second half before the St. Henry big man powered them out of the building.
Stahl scored his season average 19 points in the first half alone as the Redskins clung to a 26-22 lead at the half. Stahl found his pet area under the rim and put in spinning one-handers over and over again.
But the Cardinals held Stahl to just four points in the second half as the the Skins’ 6-foot-4 forward scored a game-high 23 points along with 12 rebounds.
Dougherty said the post defense was good both halves. It was New Bremen’s help from the guards on Stahl that made the difference over the final 16 minutes, he said.
“Justin Heitkamp did the same job on him in both halves,” Dougherty said. “It’s the guys on the backside being more active and better defensively.”
Rosenbeck said St. Henry (15-2, 5-1 MAC) didn’t reverse the basketball before re-entering the ball into the post, and it meant the Redskins lost its inside offensive presence for much of the second half.
New Bremen (14-3, 6-1 MAC) trailed 18-11 midway through the second quarter when it turned its fortunes around for the rest of the night with a 9-0 run.that was capped by Schwieterman’s 3-pointer from the top of the key that banked off the backboard, spun around the rim and went down for a 20-18 New Bremen lead.
Schwieterman went 4-for-5 from 3-point range on Friday night.
“We got a couple stops and a couple rebounds,” Dougherty said. “We stopped letting them tip it around. We started putting our body in front of them and stopped being soft with our screenouts. Luke made a couple buckets, we got a few baskets at the rim. We played good team basketball.”
The lead changed hands five times in the third quarter as neither team could shake the other.
Schwieterman hit back-to-back jumpers midway through the third, the second a trey that gave New Bremen its first lead since the second quarter at 32-30.
A pair of Parker Manger free throws with 18 seconds left in the third quarter gave New Bremen a 41-39 lead after three quarters.
“We were really good defensively,” Dougherty said. “We stopped reaching on the perimeter and were able to keep them in front of us. Jordan Bender is quick off the dribble and Jordan Post is strong and we couldn’t keep them in front of us in the first half. Then were just solid and tough (in the second half).”
Bender added 13 points for St. Henry.
New Bremen showed no ill effects of having its nine-game winning streak snapped last Saturday night to Jackson Center. Instead, the Cardinals won their sixth straight MAC contest and moved to 7-2 on the road this season.
Dougherty had said in the lead-up to the game that he expected a slugfest in the paint and Friday’s game didn’t disappoint. Both teams dished out and received plenty of contact inside. Rosenbeck didn’t think his team responded well to it and became frustrated.
St. Henry won the battle on the glass 32-31. The Redskins had 14 offensive rebounds, including eight offensive tip-back rebounds by Stahl near the basket.
Ben Homan, who battled foul trouble in the first half, had seven rebounds, as did Carson Manger.
“We just made plays,” Dougherty said. “That’s a good team. St. Henry is going to be a load (in the tournament).”
St. Henry, which has struggled at the free throw line this season, shooting just 58 percent from the charity stripe, was just 10-of-18 (55.6 percent) on Friday. Bender went 5-for-5 at the line. The rest of the Redskins were 5-for-13.
New Bremen will host Botkins on Saturday night. The freshman game will start at 5 p.m., the JV at approximately 6:30 p.m. and the varsity game will follow.
St. Henry travels to Celina on Saturday for a 6 p.m. tilt between the Mercer County foes.