MURDOCK – Falls City Sacred Heart walked into Elmwood-Murdock’s gym Friday night with a resume full of success over the past calendar year.
The Knights came close to stopping the Irish from continuing on that successful trail.
Falls City Sacred Heart edged Elmwood-Murdock 58-55 in an overtime battle. The defending Class D-2 state champions began the extra session with two baskets and iced the victory at the foul line. FCSH went 8-of-8 at the stripe in the final 39.6 seconds.
Elmwood-Murdock head coach Aaron Pryor said he was encouraged by the way the Knights played. He felt the team was putting itself in position to create positive outcomes later this season.
“That’s the message I told the guys just now,” Pryor said. “We were going up against a defending state champion tonight that has an established history of success, and we played well against them the whole game. That team has a couple of All-State players on it and we embraced that challenge the entire night.
“It may not have reflected it on the final scoreboard, but I saw a lot of things tonight that are really good trends. Overall we’ve made a lot of improvements from our first game.”
Falls City Sacred Heart (8-0) entered the game as one of the top-scoring teams in the state. The Irish had defeated six of their previous seven opponents by 25 or more points. The squad had also surpassed the 70-point mark four times in December.
Elmwood-Murdock (3-4) erased a 17-13 deficit early in the second quarter. Carter Bornemeier opened the stanza with a 3-pointer and Nolan Langfeldt capitalized on a pair of drives in the lane. FCHS junior Tyler Witt gave the team a 26-24 halftime lead with a late basket.
The Knights stormed ahead 39-36 by the end of the third quarter. Nick Langfeldt and Nolan Langfeldt both drained shots during the first 62 seconds, and a 3-pointer from Massimo Lojing gave the team a 39-34 cushion five minutes later.
Elmwood-Murdock kept the Irish from gaining steam on offense with a zone look in the second half. Pryor said the team wanted to keep Witt and fellow veteran Drew Bippes from getting many clean attempts after the break.
“Witt and Bippes are two really good players, and you have to keep track of them every moment they’re on the court, so we thought it would be something to slow them down a bit,” Pryor said. “They were able to find some open spots at times, but we wanted to keep them from getting it inside as much as they did in the first half.”
A post move from Noah Willey gave E-M a 46-42 lead with 3:37 to play in regulation. Witt drained a 3-pointer on the team’s next possession, and the score remained 46-45 until the final stretch. Witt made one free throw with 34.2 seconds left to tie the game. The contest went to overtime after E-M’s last-second jumper glanced away from the hoop.
Jake Hoy and Bippes gave FCSH a 50-46 lead with two early baskets in overtime. Hoy and Witt then kept the team ahead with their work at the free-throw line. Both players went 4-for-4 in the last portion of the game.
Willey led Elmwood-Murdock with 15 points and six rebounds. Nolan Langfeldt tallied 13 points and two rebounds and Nick Langfeldt had ten points and three boards. Bornemeier pitched in 11 points, four rebounds and three steals.
Lojing delivered three points, two rebounds and one assist. Drake Spohr posted three points and one steal for the Knights, and Cole Cooper hauled in one rebound and drew one charge.
Falls City Sacred Heart 17 9 10 10 12 – 58
Elmwood-Murdock 13 11 15 7 9 – 55
Lojing 3, Nick Langfeldt 10, Nolan Langfeldt 13, Bornemeier 11, Willey 15, Cooper 0, Spohr 3.