BASKETBALL: Cards clip Trojans

BOTKINS — A strong team effort for the New Bremen Cardinals allowed them to travel into Botkins Saturday night and defeat the Trojans 67-48 in a non-league game played at Botkins.

“Our kids really responded tonight,” Cardinals head coach Adam Dougherty said. “It was nice to see the energy they used after the heartbreaking loss we suffered Friday night. I thought we really responded well.”

“Their pressure hurt us a little bit tonight,” Trojans head coach Brent Meyer said. “We also didn’t shoot very well from the floor shooting 29 percent.”

The Cardinals began to gain an advantage right from the beginning as they opened an 11-6 first quarter lead on a 7-2 run in the last three minutes of the quarter. They maintained the lead at 15-11 with five minutes left of the first half, but Botkins closed the score to 17-15 on a layup from Tyler Egbert with 3:40 left. New Bremen closed out the first half on three baskets from Elliott Westerbeck, a layup by Carson Manger and a free throw from Luke Schwieterman to gain a 24-16 lead at halftime.

“I think we came out early with a lot of energy and pressured the ball really well and that helped our offense tremendously,” Dougherty said.

Four players scored in double figures for the Cardinals. Troy Williams led New Bremen with 15 points followed by Westerbeck with 14 points and seven rebounds, Aaron Clune with 12 points and Luke Schwieterman scored 10 points. Parker Manger only had five points but he grabbed six rebounds.

“I thought we played balanced tonight,” Dougherty said. “Elliott (Westerbeck) played really well tonight. He finished around the rim and was tough. Aaron (Clune) had a great floor game tonight. He got us into stuff and took advantage when he had to. Also after Parker (Manger) had a bad night on Friday, he stepped up and defensively he so attentive and broke up a lot of passes. The rebounds he had were key rebounds in traffic and they were timely when we needed them. Those three were really active defensively and were active around the rim offensively.”

Tyler Egbert of Botkins opened the scoring in the second half with a bomb in the first half minute, but New Bremen responded with a 5-0 run on two layups and a free throw with 6:40 left for a 29-21 lead.

After a pair of free throws by Egbert, the Cardinals went on another 6-0 run to put the lead to 35-23 with 5:18 left. Botkins ended the quarter with a 12-9 run to make the score 44-35 after three quarters of play.

“It just felt like we were there in the game the entire time,” Meyer said. “We just couldn’t get over that hump and you have to give New Bremen credit for not letting us do that.”

Botkins started to make a comeback at the start of the fourth quarter when they went on a 6-1 run to close the score to 45-41 with 5:47 left. The Trojans took advantage of a pair of Cardinal turnovers with a basket by Seth Hoying and a bomb from Josh Schwartz.

Following a Cardinal timeout, New Bremen retaliated with a 9-0 to regain a 54-41 lead with 3:59 left. New Bremen concluded the game by converting 9 of 10 free throws for the 67-48 victory.

“We cut the deficit to four in the fourth quarter,” Meyer said. “But we had to expend a lot of energy to get to that point. They came out and ran a play that we were didn’t defend very well, Westerbeck hit a jumper and we never recovered after that.”

“I thought it was a really good team effort by us tonight,” Dougherty said.

New Bremen (7-5) gets back into MAC action next Friday when they host Versailles, while Botkins (7-9) entertains Anna on Friday.