Boys out of tourney by one basket

Norv and Mary Coblentz · Wednesday, February 19, 2014
The West Liberty Comets boys' basketball team lost a heart-breaker to the Mid-Prairie Golden Hawks at Wilton Feb. 17, ending their season in the first round of post-season district play. The final score was 63-61.

"They did a nice job defensively on us," West Liberty Head Coach James Laughlin said. "They tried to take Kyle (Miller) out early. Offensively, we tried too early to do too much."

The Comets did almost everything right, but missed free throws, fewer rebounds in the second half and a streak of turnovers in the fourth quarter caused their downfall.

First Half

The first quarter set the tone for the back and forth of the game. A Mid-Prairie shot hit the backboard, then Becker made a long three-point shot just before the buzzer for a 21-20 West Liberty lead.

The second quarter ended with a West Liberty cushion after some incredible offense.

The halftime score was 40-34, West Liberty.

Third Quarter

Mid-Prairie went on a 7-2 run to start the third quarter, taking the lead. Mid-Prairie started with possession and got two offensive boards and a putback basket. The Comets were called for a charge, then Mid-Prairie made a three-point shot for a 40-39 score. Miller scored, assist Becker, for a 42-39 score. Mid-Prairie made a jump shot, then West Liberty was fouled on a shot and missed both free throws. Mid-Prairie got the rebound.

Mid-Prairie got two offensive rebounds then was fouled on a shot. They made both free throws and took a 43-42 lead with 5:45 on the clock.

Later on, after West Liberty turned the ball over, Heick took charge. Ryan Alpen threw the inbounds pass all the way to the far end, and Koenig scored for West liberty.

Heick got a steal, Mid-Prairie fouled and West Liberty turned the ball over. West Liberty fouled, then Anderson got a defensive rebound. West Liberty fouled, and Guardado got a defensive rebound. Guardado got an offensive board and a basket with just over a minute on the clock, giving the Comets a 48-47 lead.

Mid-Prairie traveled, then Miller drove to the basket and scored for a 50-47 score going into the final quarter.

Fourth Quarter

Mid-Prairie led 53-51 with 5:27 to go in the fourth quarter.

Guardado got an offensive rebound. He made a basket, assist Koenig, and drew a foul. The free throw was no good, and the Comets trailed 54-53.

Mid-Prairie turned the ball over, and Anderson made a three-point shot with 3:33 to go, giving the Comets a 56-54 lead. West Liberty fouled, and Mid-Prairie again made both free throws for a 56-56 tie with 3:01 to go.

Mid-Prairie fouled, their team’s sixth of the half. The Golden Hawks got a defensive rebound then traveled. Mid-Prairie got a steal with two minutes to go.

West Liberty fouled, and Mid-Prairie made the first of two free throws. Koenig got the rebound. West Liberty was fouled but missed the front end of the one-and-one, and Mid-Prairie grabbed the rebound.

West Liberty fouled again, and Mid-Prairie made both free throws with 59.9 seconds on the clock. The Golden Hawks had a 59-56 lead.

West Liberty drove to the hoop and drew a foul but missed both free throws, and Mid-Prairie got the board. West Liberty fouled again, and Mid-Prairie made the first of two free throws for a 60-56 lead with 42 seconds to go. Heick got the rebound.

Mid-Prairie got a defensive rebound then turned the ball over. On a heads-up play, Guardado called a time out from the floor with 27.1 seconds to go to preserve the Comets' possession.

Guardado got a putback basket and drew a foul. He made the free throw to bring the Comets to within one point at 60-59.

The Comets fouled again, and Mid-Prairie made the second of two free throws with 17 seconds left. Becker drove to the basket and scored to tie the game at 61-61.

Mid-Prairie put up a three-pointer and missed. The ball ended up with the Golden Hawks, and they made a quick jumper at the buzzer for the 63-61 win.

"Our main concern all night was with our defense and rebounding," Mid-Prairie Head Coach Chris Kern said. "I thought West Liberty played with a higher intensity the first part of the game. I thought we picked our intensity up (in the second half)."

"We talked about it at halftime that we were doing a great job rebounding and we (wanted to) continue that in the second half," Laughlin said. "Give (M-P) credit, they did a great job crashing the boards. We didn't block out and get the boards we needed to. That was a big difference in the game.

"We put ourselves in a hole, four or five points, and I thought we did a nice job battling back."

The loss ends the high school basketball careers of eight Comets seniors: Luke Seele, Riley Anderson, Kyle Miller, Brett Becker, Carl Guardado, JP Gomez, Troy Heick and Tyler Lyon. "(It would be) tough to replace (this group of seniors). I thought all eight of our seniors did a nice job this year. Great leaders for us. You never replace a class like this. You just hope to get some other kids in who can do some of the things they've been able to do."
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