Shane Goerzen, a junior for Goessel, made his 5-foot-1 presence was felt, in a 52-57 loss to a much taller Pretty Prairie team on Thursday night in sub-state action at Goessel.
Goerzen swished in 19 points with three 3-pointers and six free throws leading all scorers, with 17 of those points coming in the last 5 minutes, 11 seconds of the game.
The Bluebirds got their home crowd in a frenzy by getting out in front, 9-0, against the fourth-ranked team in the state. The Bulldogs took some of the volume off of the Bluebird noise by scoring 10 consecutive points. Although 6-foot-8 senior Ben Lampe was able to block some shots inside, Goessel did a good job blocking out on rebounds.
The Bluebirds led at the end of the first quarter, 9-8. After Davis Cook put in two baskets in the second period, Goessel went cold for more than two minutes, allowing Pretty Prairie to take a 19-13 lead. Trey Schmidt and Goerzen added two baskets before the half ended, with the Bulldogs holding a 25-17 lead at the end of the second quarter.
After a halftime performance by the Goessel Trash Band (percussion only), the Bluebirds matched buckets with Pretty Prairie in the third period. Goessel had a quartet of players chipping in points as the third quarter ended with a Bulldog lead, 30-24.
Pretty Prairie hit a traditional 3-point play to start the fourth quarter, but Nic Buller laid in a basket, weaving through traffic. The Bulldogs hit a 3-pointer, and Cook hit a 17-footer above the free-throw line to keep the Bluebirds within 8 points. Schmidt banked in a shot from in the lane and Goerzen hit two of three free throws to see the Bluebirds scratch their way back into the game. Pretty Prairie was able to enlarge the lead to 43-32 with less than four minutes to play. From that point, Goessel became deadly from the free-throw line and made friends with the 3-point circle.
Two free throws from Goerzen and a Goerzen 3-pointer were sandwiched around one free-throw by the Bulldogs. Another basket by the Bulldogs pushed their lead to 46-37. Buller hit two free throws and Pretty Praire missed three of four from the stripe. Cook hit one free throw and Goerzen got a steal and methodically banked in the layup in spite of a block attempt by a much taller Bulldog. The Bluebirds trailed by five with 1:40 to play in the game.
Pretty Prairie was perfect on two free throws, but Nic Buller flipped a slashing drive off the backboard for a score. The Bulldogs hit two more free throws and Goerzen hit a 3-pointer from the right corner in front of the pep band. The Pretty Prairie lead was now 51-47. The Bulldogs went four of four from the free-throw line and Goerzen went two for two. Goerzen nailed another 3-pointer from the left corner with 10 seconds to play, getting the Bluebirds within 3 points. The Bulldogs were able to score one more time making the final score Pretty Prairie 57, Goessel 52.
Three players hit double digits for the Bluebirds with Goerzen scoring a season high 19, Cook, 11 (with 13 rebounds); and Buller, 10. Trey Schmidt hit 7, Braden Unruh notched 3 points, and Peter Voth scored 2. The Goessel boys ended their season with a record of 12-10.
Burrton defeated Pretty Prairie on Saturday with a shot at the buzzer to advance to the state tournament.