Boys basketball: Princeton 43, Kewanee 40 (OT)
PRINCETON — The Kewanee Boilermakers sure made things interesting at Prouty Gym Friday night.
Koel Hjerstedt gave the Tigers a seemingly comfortable 36-26 lead with just three minutes left to play. However, it was anything but comfortable.
The Boilers ran off 10 straight points to tie the game at 36, missing a 3-point attempt at the end of regulation. Kewanee scored first in overtime, but the Tigers took the lead and held on for a 43-40 victory.
First-year PHS coach Kevin Howard said the Tigers may still be learning how to put games away.
“I think there’s some of that, being young and not a lot of guys playing together. Young coach, too,” he said.
The TRAC East opener was the Tigers’ second straight win heading into Tuesday’s game with undefeated Ottawa (5-0).
The Tigers (2-4) led 21-16 at the half and as much as 27-18 late in the third quarter, settling for a 27-22 lead at quarter’s end, both teams netting just six points in the frame.
Hjerstedt (16 points) got the Tigers going to start the fourth quarter. He had an early hoop and followed two free throws by Owen Rossler with a pair of his own.
After Kewanee (1-5) put up four points, Hjerstedt drove the length of the floor for a layup and added the free throw to convert the 3-point play to put the Tigers up 36-26 with just 2:57 remaining.
Then the Boilers heated up with Blaine Pickering (6) and Kavon Russell (4) combining to score all 10 points in their 10-0 game-tying run. Russell, however, missed two free throws with 41.0 left and a deep 3-point attempt at the buzzer.
Kewanee scored first in overtime, but PHS sophomore Caleb Haring scored on a drive to tie the game at the 3:20 mark in overtime. Classmate Jamie Reinhardt followed with a coast-to-coast basket to put the Tigers back in the lead at 40-38.
Still down two, the Boilers elected to run nearly a minute of clock before Carson Sauer was fouled on a shot. He sank 1 of 2 free throw attempts with 9.6 remaining to make it 41-40.
Reinhardt, who led the Tigers with 17 points, sank a pair of charity tosses at the 5.0 mark and the Boilers’ Trenton Terry missed a 3-point attempt at the buzzer to allow the Tigers to escape with the victory.
“I just wanted them to keep fighting and they did,” Howard said. “Once we got into overtime, I said, ‘Guys, you got this game. You’ve been shutting them down all game. We score a bucket or two and get ahead, we’ll be fine.’ “
Cold-shooting plagued both sides throughout the game, the Tigers and Boilers combining to make 28 out of 107 field goal attempts (26 percent), including a chilly 3 percent (1-of-34) behind the arc.
The Tigers enjoyed a 39-27 rebounding edge with Hjerstedt snagging 15 boards.
Tiger tales: Howard became emotional talking about dedicating the game in memory of his late cousin Scott Panique, who recently passed away. Panique’s sister, Lisa, was in attendance along with her boyfriend, Jon Jansen, a 11-year veteran of the NFL (Redskins/Lions) and teammate of Panique at Michigan. Janssen gave the Tigers a pregame pep talk. ... Friday’s game was Howard’s first game back in competition at Prouty Gym since he played in PHS’ 1994 sectional championship 60-58 victory over Stark County, thanks to the late heroics of teammate Dan Marquis. ... PHS won the sophomore game 49-42 with Kewanee winning the freshman game in the South Gym.