By Steve Raymond
News Report Staff
No matter how hard Effingham tried, Teutopolis simply would not give up the lead.
The Wooden Shoes led throughout and every time the Hearts got close, they responded immediately and built the lead back up.
Finally, T-Town put the game away with a 14-2 run in the fourth quarter and ended up with an 83-74 win Tuesday night in a jam-packed J.H. Griffin Gymnasium.
“Teams are going to make runs, especially good teams like Effingham,” THS coach Jason Hanson said following the game. “When that happens, you just need to make plays and get stops. I thought we responded really well every time they made a run at us.”
The Shoes jumped to a quick 7-0 lead and the Hearts found themselves playing catch-up all night. EHS got within one, 14-13, but T-Town had a 21-16 edge after eight minutes.
Lee Hardiek hit a 3-pointer, Brock Bueker a short jumper and Lane Belleville added two free throws as the Shoes started the second quarter with another 7-0 surge that gave them a double-digit advantage, 28-16.
But Grant Wolfe and Landon Wolfe sparked a rally. Grant hit a short jumper and a three-pointer, Landon converted a three-point play and Jacob Donaldson converted a turnover into another basket and the Hearts were within 30-26.
By halftime, it was a 36-30 T-Town lead.
“I thought we were fortunate to only be down six at halftime,” EHS coach Ron Reed said. “We didn’t rebound and were just out-of-sorts. They did a great job of playing to their strengths. They hit the boards and got the ball to their best shooters.”
It didn’t matter who took the shot. The players in blue and gold were shooting lights out the entire game. Ten first half turnovers by Teutopolis helped Effingham in that first half, as did 16 points from Grant Wolfe.
It looked like the Hearts just might get over the jump in the first two minutes of the second half. Landon Wolfe scored from inside and Donaldson and Brent Beals hit back-to-back threes to tie the game at 38-38 at the 6:14 mark.
But in just 82 seconds, Mitch Hardiek scored twice and Brant Bueker added a basket after grabbing an offensive rebound to put the hosts back on top by six. In the final two minutes of the period, Hardiek hit one from behind the arc, helping the Shoes built the margin to 10 at 58-48, heading into the fourth period.
“It would have been nice to finally gain control of the game and get things on our side,” Reed admitted. “But that’s where getting stops comes in. We had no answer.”
It was still a 10-point bulge when Landon Wolfe hit a pair of free throws and Beals connected on his third from long range to trim the gap to 67-62 with 3:49 to play.
But the Shoes responded again. Belleville scored seven points in the next two minutes, helping T-Town string together one final run and expand the lead to as many as 17 points, 81-64, with about one minute to play.
“It’s tough, especially in this atmosphere, when you get down,” Reed said. “We tied it in the third period and then got down. We got back within five in the fourth period and then just gave up way too many easy baskets. We shoot the ball well enough to be able to come back. But you have to be able to get stops when you’re down.”
All of Effingham’s scoring came from four players – Grant Wolfe had a game-high 25 points; Landon Wolfe and Donaldson both had 20; and Beals scored 9. The Hearts shot pretty well, making 27-of-56 attempts, a 48 percent clip; and were 11-for-11 from the foul stripe.
The Shoes had eight players get in the scoring column and had four in double figures. Brant Bueker led the way with 19, followed by Hardiek with 18, Belleville 15 and Chris Ungrund 10.
T-Town shot a torrid 57 percent, making 30-of-53 attempts. The Shoes were 16-of-17 from the free throw line and owned a 27-17 rebounding edge. It was an 18-5 advantage on the boards in the first half.
“I really thought we did a good job on the boards,” Hanson said. “That really allows us to push the ball. We want to get out and run and get some easy baskets. I thought that helped us.
“Offensively, we’ve played really well the last two games,” the THS coach added. “We still have too many careless turnovers. But when you play hard, rebound and play defense, you’re going to give yourself a chance to win.”
The Shoes, who improved to 6-1 on the season, will return to action Saturday with a game at Robinson.
The Hearts, who dropped their first game of the year and also stand 6-1, will play an Apollo Conference game at home Friday against Mt. Zion.