Raiders take 35-34 loss to Mater Dei in overtimeFebruary 2, 2021
By JIMMY LAFAKIS
FERDINAND — Late in the second quarter of Tuesday evening’s 2A Sectional 48 contest against Evansville Mater Dei, Southridge (8-11) senior Kennedy Nalley peered around the corner for an open lane, drove straight to the basket and gently laid the ball through the hoop with a finger roll. Nalley pushed through contact during the adroit shot, causing the passionate Raiders fans to roar with delight after the ball dropped through the net.
Nalley’s layup was just one of a series of game-defining plays in the opening-round matchup. The squads went back-and-forth throughout the night, but Mater Dei earned the 35-34 win in overtime.
“It basically came down to one more play,” Raiders head coach Greg Werner said. “They made one more play than us. Our kids made a lot of plays. It’s just that we needed one more play on offense to get the job done. I just feel for the seniors. It’s tough.”
Each twist and turn became a decisive move of the chess match. The Wildcats favored a slower pace, so the Raiders protected the paint.
“They couldn’t get what they wanted,” Werner said. “They usually get what they want after two or three passes against every team. Our goal was to make sure that we took that away and have them struggle with looking to score the basketball. They did. It was a physical game, and I thought our kids adjusted to how the game was being called. We got a little bit more physical.”
Southridge’s tight defense forced Mater Dei senior Mariah Dickerson into foul trouble. When the Raiders achieved second-half stops, Nalley and Southridge junior Myah Montgomery took the offensive reins.
The stalemate persisted throughout the final moments of the fourth quarter. The score was deadlocked at 29-29 before the overtime period began.
Mater Dei scored a string of consecutive baskets in the opening stages of overtime. The Wildcats worked their way to the charity stripe, and junior Kennedy Wenger finished with a team-high 11 points.
“I’m proud of how Mater Dei played with class,” Werner said. “I’m proud of how the officials did and how they handled everything with class. I’m proud of my kids — they’re the number one class act. I wish I could be super-excited, because I wanted them to have this tournament. I felt like they could go get this tournament.”
Nalley scored a game-high 15 points for the Raiders, while Montgomery contributed 12 points. Each team knocked in a trio of 3-pointers.
Werner lauded the Raiders’ collective enthusiasm for the game and also praised their abilities to grow from adversity in crucial moments.
“I asked them if they would run through that brick wall for me,” he said. “These kids will run through that brick wall for me. I will never forget them. I love them, and I’ll love them for as long as I can remember. That’s what I’m going to remember the most. They always ran through that wall for me. They always tried to give us their all.”
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