For the Tribune
Trinity Lutheran boy’s basketball team led by 10 points late in the fourth quarter on Saturday night at home against Salem and held on to claim a 57-52 win.
Salem’s Jaelen Nice was a one-man show in the fourth quarter to keep his team in the game as he scored 13 of their 22 points including three 3-pointers. For the Cougars, Toby VanLiew made 5 of 7 from the free throw line to help secure the win.
“It was a tough win,” Cougars coach Aaron Rudzinski said. “We seemed to have played with the lead most of the game but felt like we were on the edge of whether or not we were going to extend the lead or was it going to come to a tie game at some point. I’m just proud of the way the guys were able to handle the pressure for the most part.”
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The Cougars took the lead for good in the first quarter when Daniel Horton grabbed an offensive rebound and scored at the 3:37 mark. Jacob Schult then scored to make it 12-8. Luke Stuckwisch had a steal and layup to give the Cougars a 14-10 lead.
The Cougars led 14-12 after one quarter and 24-18 at halftime. They had five turnovers in the second quarter and had 14 for the game.
Dylan Maschino hit two free throws and Stuckwisch hit a 3-pointer for the 19-12 lead. The Cougars outscored the Lions 10-6 before intermission.
“I think we had a few more turnovers than I would have liked,” Rudzinski said. “Overall I thought we handled their press pretty well. We knew the kind of things they ran, and we knew they would press us the whole game, and I say other than a few moments throughout the game we handled their press.”
The Cougars and Lions battled back-and-forth in the third quarter as the Cougars outscored the Lions 15-12 to take 39-30 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
The Cougars biggest lead of the game was 45-32 when Stuckwisch hit a 3-pointer. The Lions then began to mount a rally, but fell five points short as they outscored the Cougars over the final eight minutes of play.
“I think switching over to the zone affected them a lot,” Rudzinski said. “A couple of times they were able to penetrate with their guards and a couple of 3-pointers at the end, but overall the intensity was good.”
Free throw shooting was not much of an issue in this game as the Lions made all four of their attempts and the Cougars went 13 for 21.
“We didn’t foul too often, so that was good,” Rudzinski said. “We played hands off most of the game, had a few blocks and some deflections and I think that led to some rebounds and turnovers for us.”
Horton led the Cougars (3-0) with 16 points and 11 rebounds and VanLiew added 13 points.
The Cougars travel to Austin on Tuesday.