Southridge's comeback effort falls shortDecember 6, 2019
By JONATHAN SAXON
HUNTINGBURG — The Southridge boys basketball team didn’t pick up the win Friday night, but you can’t say they didn’t give it all they had. Down as much as 19 at one point, the Raiders (1-2) fought back to make it a three-point game in the final seconds, but couldn’t get the final shots as they fell in their home opener at Huntingburg Memorial Gymnasium to the Washington Hatchets, 48-42.
Raiders coach Mark Rohrer was frank in calling the first half the poorest he has ever seen his team play since arriving at Southridge, but he commended the players in fighting back in the second half to give themselves a chance to steal the win.
“You’re always frustrated with the loss,” he said. “But I was so pleased and proud of the composure we held in the second half. The effort we gave was tremendous.”
Senior forward Garrett Voegerl was the first on the board with a putback layup, but the Hatchets (2-1) quickly went on a 14-0 run thanks to shots from senior forward Lance Roach, junior forward Zach Gray and senior guards Grant Niehaus and Kiowa Jones. Voegerl scooped in another layup to break it up, but a three from Gray gave the Hatchets a 17-5 lead by the end of the opening quarter.
Junior forward Sam Sermersheim opened the second with an inside scoop, but the scores from Niehaus and senior guard Kyle Mann gave the Hatchets a 14-point lead. Voegerl found another couple scores from the paint, but shots from Mann, Gray and Niehaus built a 30-11 Hatchets lead. Junior guard Colson Montgomery sank a pair of free throws towards the end of the second, but a layup from Jones ended the first half with the Hatchets up, 32-13.
The tide finally started to turn in the third quarter. Sophomore guard Carter Whitehead took it to the rim to start. Voegerl got loose on a transition dunk and Montgomery finally found the stroke from the 3-point line. Whitehead closed the 10-0 run with another drive to the rack. Jones and Niehaus had four points to help the Hatchets rebound, but Sermersheim answered with five of his own, including a three-point play, to get the Raiders within eight. Montgomery got the closing bucket of the third as Southridge trailed, 38-30.
Jones put one in to get the lead back to 10, but Montgomery scored in quick succession to cut the deficit to five. Montgomery and Jones traded shots before Mann made 5-of-6 from the free throw line to give the Hatchets breathing room. Another Montgomery three cut the lead to 45-42 with less than 20 seconds remaining. However, that was as close as Southridge would get as Mann made three of his last four free throws and Montgomery’s final shots fell short in the closing seconds.
Montgomery had 21 points, while Voegerl finished with 10. Gray, Mann and Niehaus each had 12 points.
“First half we just didn’t come ready,” said Montgomery. “We were focused, but we weren’t ready for their intensity or pressure. Halftime we made a game plan. We had a chip on our shoulder the second half that we didn’t have in the first.”
Despite the loss, Rohrer thought there were a lot of positives to take away from Friday night, particularly how the Raiders climbed back into the game in the second half. He liked that his players didn’t panic or quit in the face of their deficits, and believed that they made good strides in figuring out how to string runs together when they needed to. It’s an ongoing process, but Rohrer is confident they’ll work it out.
“Even down big, I thought our pace offensively was so appropriate in the second half,” he said. “That’s something we’re going to have to learn as we go on throughout the season. We want to go fast at times, and other times we have to be able to grind some possessions and have an understanding on how we want to manufacture good shots. We took a huge step in the right direction in the second half.”
Southridge can rebound 7:30 p.m. Saturday night, as it is set to welcome Evansville Mater Dei.
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