A controversial call would make all the difference in the final minute of play between Trinity Lutheran and Christian Academy on Thursday.
With 38 seconds on the clock, down 35-34, the Warriors tried to intentionally foul the Cougars to get a shot at a buzzer-beater win.
Instead, the Cougars were called for an offensive foul on a collision that didn’t involve the ball at half court.
The Warriors were awarded the ball and went on to win 36-35.
“We’re moving the ball, trying to protect and (we) got knocked out, and we were called for a foul,” Cougars coach Aaron Rudzinski said. “I thought our kids battled hard. That was a tough team to keep to that low of scoring.”
Nic Reed highlighted the Warriors’ night by putting on a dominant display from the field, with 31 of the team’s points.
The first half Reed put on a scoring display Christian Academy. The senior scored all 19 first half points for the Warriors.
In the first quarter, Trinity mixed up their defenses between 2-3 and matchup zones.
The Cougars held the Warriors to just four points in the opening eight minutes, which were all scored by senior Nic Reed.
Trinity Lutheran went on a 9-1 run in the final five minutes of the first quarter, led by a 3-pointer and basket by junior Chad Stuckwisch, for a 9-4 lead after one.
A 3-pointer by Cougars senior Dylan Maschino gave the Cougars a 12-6 lead at the 5:57-mark until Reed went on a 6-2 run.
The Cougars took a 21-19 advantage into the half thanks to a basket by senior Jacob Schult with 19 ticks before intermission.
Stephen Cook scored the first basket for the Warriors to start the second half, and an and-one by Reed propelled Christian Academy to a 11-4 run by the 2:10-mark.
The Cougars narrowed the deficit to 30-29 by the third quarter buzzer thanks to a pair of late baskets by senior Jacob Schult.
“(Schult) did a good job tonight,” Rudzinski said. “We featured him in the post and tried to move the ball. He had an advantage with no one strength wise able to handle him. It was good to see that.”
Neither team could get much offensive traction to start the third quarter, as the teams stood deadlocked at 33-33 with 3:13 left in the game following a pair of free throws by Daniel Horton.
Reed knocked down two free throws, following the offensive foul, with 27 seconds left to give the Warriors the edge.
“Our focus in the second half was to force anyone but Reed to shoot the ball. It’s a tough game to lose,” Rudzinski said. “He can do everything at 6-foot-5. He’s so athletic and strong. We had a hard time protecting his penetration. He can get through a lot of defensive pressure. He didn’t really show his shooting ability on the outside, so we tried to get him to take those shots.”
Keegan Rebber led the Cougars with nine points while Schult and Horton had eight each.
Horton will have to wait until a week from today to reach 1,000 points, as he now has 994 on his career.
Horton will be the first player in boys history to eclipse the mark.
Bobby Tabeling had 15 rebounds to top the Cougars (14-7) on the boards.