Gaels toe the line, beat Knights in overtime

February 12, 2004|by CURT HORNBECKER

What kept the Middletown boys basketball team in the game for the first 32 minutes Wednesday night, took them out of it in the final four.

After making only 10 of 22 free throws during regulation, No. 10 St. Maria Goretti made seven of 10 from the stripe in overtime and escaped with a 64-58 victory over the No. 8 Knights at the Gael Center.

"Going to the line for us is normally like a rebounding drill," Goretti coach Cokey Robertson said. "But, in the last four minutes of the game, we were seven of 10."

The Knights (11-6) managed to rebound from a 15-point halftime deficit by turning up the defensive pressure and forcing 13 turnovers in the second half. John and Joe Keimig were the primary beneficiaries, combining for 17 points during that span.


Goretti (13-12) was limited to just 18 points over that 16 minutes, and took just 16 shots from the floor. Middletown, meanwhile, hit 13 of its 32 field goal tries.

"Their press just bothered us more (in the second half)," Robertson said. "When you don't get many offensive opportunities, and you give them offensive opportunities, that just feeds their momentum."

An eight-foot runner by John Keimig with 30 seconds left in regulation gave the Knights their first lead since a 2-0 advantage, but Mike Nelson drew a foul at the opposite end with 19 seconds left, and made one of two shots to force overtime.

Joey Spierenburg came up big from the line for the Gaels in overtime, hitting three of four, including two critical shots with 28 seconds left.

"It's all mental," the Goretti junior said. "You have to see it in. You can't have any doubts. It all comes down to confidence."

"The kids got after it and felt pretty good tonight," Middletown coach Jon Jarrett said. "The big thing was rebounding. We missed getting some key rebounds when they missed their free throws. They hurt."

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