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Unruh leads GHS boys, but key points are too late

Staff writer

Goessel High School boys basketball team was not intimidated, but knew they were up against the fifth-ranked team in 1A Division I when they advanced in the sub-state tournament Friday night against Pretty Prairie.

An earlier meeting in the same gym resulted in a Bluebird overtime loss. The Bluebirds found themselves behind, 5-0, as they tested the resolve of Pretty Prairie’s 6-foot-8 center, driving toward the basket, making contact, and not getting the ball to drop. Braden Unruh scored the first basket for Goessel followed closely by a Neal Brubaker 3-pointer and the scoring was on for an exciting game. Davis Cook and Nic Buller hit free throws to keep the Bluebirds close and with time running out, Goessel brought the ball into the front court, passed to Unruh who caught and shot the ball hitting nothing but net, to end the first quarter with Goessel trailing, 15-14.

In a solid basketball game with both teams working hard, Goessel was able to take their first lead of the game on a basket by Trey Schmidt with 3 minutes, 31 seconds remaining in the half, keeping the Bluebirds within 1, 22-21. Four-for-four free-throw shooting allowed Goessel to gain their biggest lead of the night, 26-23, but a basket by Pretty Prairie, with 10 seconds on the clock ended the half with Goessel ahead, 26-25.

The Bulldogs grabbed the lead on a basket to start the third quarter and then both teams went scoreless for more than 3 minutes. Unruh scored a basket with 4:19 to play and then hit a 3-pointer and another jumper for Goessel’s only points in the quarter, but the Bluebirds only trailed, 36-33.

Goessel went to work, trying to stay close as the Bulldogs would get ahead by 5, but a 3-pointer and a 2-pointer by Unruh and finally a reverse layup by John Berkholz tied the game at 40-40 with 5 minutes to play. Pretty Prairie kept scoring but a 3-pointer by Trey Schmidt and a 3-pointer by Unruh kept the Bluebirds within 1. With a 1-point lead, Pretty Prairie was willing to hold the ball at midcourt and let time run off the clock.

The Bulldogs hit 3 free throws to give them a 51-47 lead with 25 seconds remaining in the game. Defense on Unruh prevented Goessel’s leading scorer to get open looks, but Schmidt stroked in another 3-pointer with 14.8 seconds remaining on the clock to bring the score within 1, 51-50.

Pretty Prairie was immediately fouled and converted both free throws and called timeout with 13.6 seconds to play and a lead of 53-50. Again, focusing on Unruh, the defense allowed senior Corey Buller to be open in the right corner and a confident shot swished to tie the game, sending this contest into overtime.

Pretty Prairie again scored first on a 3-pointer, but Schmidt was open from 23 feet and knocked in a 3-pointer of his own to tie. The Bulldogs scored 4 points and again, a Schmidt rainbow jumper over the 6-foot-8 defense found the net to get the Bluebirds within 2 points.

Pretty Prairie dominated the boards on Goessel’s missed shots and the Bluebirds kept slipping behind in this hard-fought battle. Pretty Prairie finished the game ahead, 67-58.

Unruh finished the contest with a season-high 30 points. Schmidt ended with 13 points, Corey and Nic Buller each had 4, Brubaker 3, and Cook and Berkholz had 2 each.

Goessel’s season ended for the boys with a record of 11-11.

Goessel 52, Burrton 43

Goessel remembered a 19-point win against Burrton early in the season, but when they ended the first quarter March 1 at Goessel in the first round of sub-state play with only a lead of 11-8, they knew they were in for a game against Burrton.

Burrton’s patient offense seemed to take the Bluebirds out of rhythm, and when the Chargers went on a 12-0 run to open the second quarter, Goessel trailed, 20-11. Unruh hit 2 free throws and Corey Buller converted a traditional 3-point play. Unruh finished the quarter with a 3-pointer from the right side and Goessel had sliced the deficit to 24-23 at the half.

Berkholz started the scoring in the third quarter with a steal and layup. Cook scored from the inside, Schmidt came up with a put-back and free throw, Corey Buller hit on a drive, and Unruh added 2 more to put the Bluebirds ahead, 34-31, at the end of three quarters.

Goessel scored first in the fourth period, but Burrton got as close as 39-37 before the Bluebirds began to extend their lead. A good team effort in the fourth quarter led to a 52-43 final score with Goessel advancing to the semifinal round.

Unruh led the team with a double-double of 22 points and 10 rebounds. Brubaker, Corey Buller, and Cook scored 4 points each. Schmidt hit 3 points and Berkholz and Nic Buller scored 2 points each.

Last modified March 9, 2011

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