MARSEILLES — The St. Bede Bruins stuck with the Putnam County Panthers through most of the contest during regional play Wednesday night hosted by Marquette High School. A span of nearly 6 minutes of subpar play by the Bruins doomed them in a 54-44 loss.
The Bruins had only trailed by as many as five points during the game until Putnam County senior guard Harold Fay got the Panther offense rolling, scoring in the lane with 22.2 seconds left in the third quarter to take a 35-34 lead.
Fay’s play in the lane ignited the Putnam County offense as they went on a 15-0 run over the next 5:46 to take a 48-34 lead.
The Panthers wouldn’t look back as senior forward Evan Kreiser took over the game, scoring 13 of his game-high 19 points in the fourth quarter. Kreiser scored eight straight during the Panther run, including a layup on a back door pass from senior guard Michael Weide.
“We came out with the typical regional jitters and missed a lot of shots we normally hit early in the game. We played solid defense throughout and about the middle of the third we settled down and just started playing,” PC coach Josh Nauman said.
“Overall it was about what I expected. We came out a little tight, but fought through it and were able to pull away at the end.”
St. Bede was short a player for much of the game as senior forward Ethan Duttlinger got in early foul trouble allowing Putnam County to attack the Bruin’s lack of height in the paint.
“We didn’t get our share of rebounds is the problem. We got our only senior, one of our main rebounders and offensive players who can drive and score pretty easily and he’s there sitting on the bench. It’s unfortunate,” St. Bede coach Mike Kilmartin said.
“We couldn’t get a rebound, and they spread the floor with their three point shooters. Their bigs tore us apart; one of the problems we had was Ethan had four fouls and that was unfortunate because if he’s not in foul trouble the game changes.”
The Panthers only knocked down one 3-pointer during the contest but the threat of their outside shooting was enough to draw the attention of the Bruin defense, creating opportunities in the paint for Kreiser and sophomore forward Alec Veverka.
“We missed a bunch of easy shots that could have put us up 10 or 12, and then they’ve got to play differently,” Kilmartin said. “They spread us out, they got a lot of 3-point shooters, so they spread us out and went one on one with our post player. Our one post player is big and strong but he’s not quick enough to handle their sophomore (Veverka) and senior (Kreiser).”
St. Bede’s offense was led by sophomore guard Jarrett Olson with 17 points and junior forward-guard Sam Halm (11).
Kilmartin is looking forward to next season as he expects growth from his young team over the summer heading.
“As young as we are and without a very good junior with a broken ankle, it’d be interesting to see how this game would have came out and how many more wins we would have had,” he said. “Sixteen (wins) with a team as small and inexperienced as us with one legitimate post player. If we don’t shoot threes well, we’re going to have problems. I’ll take the season, I’ll take the season with as young as we are.
“The season will be different next year, we’ll work hard all summer.”
• PC (22-10) advanced into Friday’s championship game vs. No. 2 Henry. Visit www.bcrnews.com/sports and Tuesday’s BCR for details of that game.