How good was the Minster and Marion game? Well, five ties and six lead changes and a shot that went wide at the end…that could have won it!
Minster – Marion Local head coach Kurt Goettemoeller came within about three inches Friday night of having an extra special birthday.
How, you ask?
Well, while coaching at Marion, Goettemoeller actually teaches at Minster, and trailing the Wildcats 61-59 with one second remaining in regulation guard Collin Everman launched a three-pointer from the top of the key that would have won the game…had it gone in.
But it didn’t. It was about three inches wide right and caromed off the side of the rim as time expired.
However, the night was memorable anyway for the fact of it being one of the area’s best, and one of the season’s best basketball games of the year. It was a game that featured five ties, six lead changes, scoring runs by both teams, and a three-point shooting performance by Minster guards Mike Ketner and Aaron Ernst that made coach Mike McClurg’s day a lot better…even without a birthday.
Ketner scored a team-high 24 points, was 8 of 11 from the field, and hit 5 of 7 three-pointers that literally crushed the hopes of Marion (10-6), and Goettemoeller, who could claim a pretty good shooting performance from one of his own.
Marion’s Tyler Prenger tied Ketner for game honors with 24 points, hit 10 of 15 from the field and 4 of 7 from behind the arc. Only, as fate would have it he couldn’t get the ball in his hands for the last shot of the game.
It was a game of runs, as 6’9” sophomore center Jarod Schulze scored the first six points of the game for Minster before Marion could get on the board.
Usually it’s Marion who feasts on points from the paint, with the trio of Kyle Koenig, Tyler Mescher and Nathan Bruns, all bangers and all capable of being unstoppable by less physical, competitive teams. But Friday Shulze turned the tables, unknowingly, with his only six points of the game.
“We knew that was their game. Marion loves to pound the ball inside,” said McClurg afterwards. “I credit our big guys with matching them physically at the rim. I thought we could have done a better job defensively on the perimeter, but our ‘bigs’ did a good job on those three.”
And likewise, Marion had to give some help inside to stop Minster’s inside game with Schulze, Isaac Dorsten and Cody Frericks. When they did that they left a lot of real estate open for Ketner and teammate Aaron Ernst, and the pair made them pay.
Ernst added 17 points, shot 67% from the field (6 of 9), and hit 5 of his 6 three-point attempts (83%).
Minster led 15-10 at the end of the first quarter, only to see Marion come back with a 7-2 run in the second to take the lead and hold a three-point advantage with five seconds remaining before half. But Minster had the ball and Jared Huelsman, who made one shot all night, launched a three-pointer from 22 feet at the top of the key and it tied the score at 30 as time ran out.
“We hit a lot of big shots tonight,” said McClurg. “The three baskets that Jarod (Schulze) had at the beginning of the game turned out to be big. The shot before the half was another, and then Mike and Aaron. But we talked all week about toughness, in general – who’ll be the tougher team and who wants to compete. Our big guys picked us up defensively and our guards picked us up offensively. When you can hit 11 of 15 from three-point range it’s almost like stealing one. We hadn’t shot it very well this year prior to tonight, so we were due.”
Marion came right back at the start of the third with another 9-2 run, took a seven-point lead, and for a moment looked in control as Jack Buening and Matt Kahlig hit back-to-back threes.
But no one guarded Ernst and Ketner, who shot Minster right back into the game and retook the lead, 49-45, by the end of the quarter.
It went back and forth in the fourth, neither team able to gain an advantage of more than five points as Ketner and Ernst each hit the last of their made three-pointers for the game. Marion got good looks inside on successive possessions late, but both times Schulze, Dorsten, and company collapsed around Mescher and Bruns to make them come up empty.
Ketner hit a couple of free throws that put Minster over the 60-point threshold and Marion got one more shot at the rim with less than ten seconds. Coming out of a timeout it was Collin Everman who found himself with the basketball as the clock wound down, guarded, ironically, by Mike Ketner.
Everman had scored but three points for the game, and Ketner made him move to his right, denying him a squared-up look at the rim. It cost him. Leaning to his right, his shot went right…and the game was over.
“Usually we’re a defensive team and that’s what we pride ourselves on,” said a relieved Aaron Ernst outside his locker room. “And when we can score on offense…then I think we’re pretty hard to beat.”
Ketner, unaccustomed to creating a spotlight for himself, shared even less.
“It feels good,” he offered. “But our big guys had a presence down low. They doubled down and we kicked the ball back out. I just tried to do it for my team.”
That was it. Shy when it comes to talking, Ketner and Ernst were anything but shy when their team actually needed them most.
“I’ve had both of them in class,” Kurt Goettemoeller added, after meeting family members after the game. “All those guys. They’re wonderful kids and I’m fortunate to teach in this district while coaching at my alma mater (Marion).
“You’re competitive, and tonight was like playing your brother. You want to beat your brother and tonight we just didn’t quite get it done. But I was proud of how our kids executed down the stretch.”
Minster (8-7) won it shooting 56% from the field, 73% from three-point range, and 55% from the line.
Marion lost it by shooting 46% from the field, 40% from three-point range, and 62% from the line.
A heart stopper for many who watched it, Gottemoeller, who was serenaded by the Minster student section during the game, was gracious to face his birthday with maybe less than the most memorable of outcomes.
“We were down five, got it to a manageable situation where we had a chance to win, and got a clean look at the end. Collin’s one of our better shooters. It just didn’t go down.”
A heart stopper? Yes.
A life stopper? No.
Just a great basketball game; and a great win for Minster.