CARROLL —Tuesday night’s game here between the Kuemper Catholic Knights and the Creston Panthers came down to the final shot, and Creston’s Trey Thomsen delivered with a dramatic 3-pointer to give the Panthers a 53-51 win.
Creston remains undefeated at 3-0 overall, while Kuemper Catholic drops to 2-2 for the season.
With the game knotted at 50, and time winding down, Creston had a chance to win the game with one last shot, but Kuemper Catholic’s Chase Rupiper stole the ball and was fouled by Kainen Somers with just :06 remaining in the game.
Rupiper went to the line for two free throws, but missed the first. After making the second, Creston trailed 51-50 and head coach Billy Hiatt called a timeout.
In that timeout, Hiatt tried to figure out which Creston player the Knights would leave open for a shot. He drew up a play that gave Somers two options to pass to.
“We set Briar (Evans) up to set a screen and I also brought Luke (Neitzel) up,” Hiatt said. “I thought by doing that I’d just have Trey trail Kainen and Colby (Taylor) was trailing on the other side. I felt like they’d leave Trey open.”
Taylor inbounded the ball to Somers, who dribbled up the court in a hurry and dished out to Thomsen, who buried the game-winning shot as the horn sounded.
“Kainen made a nice pass, hit Trey and Trey made a pump fake and got the shot up,” Hiatt said. “It went through the goal right as the buzzer went off, so that was pretty exciting.”
Back and forth
Creston had built up a 10-point lead early in the second quarter, but for the most part, the game was a back-and-forth battle.
Kuemper Catholic’s size presented a matchup problem for the Panthers, so rebounding was a point of emphasis for Hiatt in this game.
“We felt like we were going to pull away a bit, and they’d fight their way back in it,” Hiatt said. “We knew we had to try to control the boards and limit the second shots. We did a pretty good job of that. Our guys fought hard. We had a couple of charges go our way. We had guys getting in the right position. That’s what we work on.”
Creston also dealt with foul trouble in the second half, as Evans picked up his fourth foul of the game early on in the third quarter. Several other key Panther players found themselves in foul trouble, as well.
Hiatt knew he would need help from his bench in order to win this game.
“I went to my bench. That’s one thing I talked about in the pregame, was the bench was going to be important tonight,” Hiatt said. “I had to put some guys in there in some crucial minutes in the game. They came in and performed well. That’s what we’ve got to have. I was really happy with that.”
And for a team that lost a number of close games a year ago, Hiatt said he feels like this was a big win for the Panthers.
“It’s huge,” Hiatt said. “I think being a little bit older and having senior leadership, and having guys used to each other helps. It’s a great win to get on the road, especially. Kuemper Catholic is a tough place to play at. It’s a good win to sneak out of here with.”
Creston hosts Glenwood on Friday with junior varsity action slated to begin at 6 p.m. with varsity action to follow.
KUEMPER CATHOLIC (51)
CRESTON (53) — Colby Taylor 6 3-3 18, Luke Neitzel 3 1-5, 7, Jay Wolfe 3 0-0 7, Trey Thomsen 3 0-0 7, Kainen Somers 2 1-2 5, Caleb Thompson 2 0-0 5, Ryan Cook 1 0-0 2, Briar Evans 1 0-0 2. 3-point goals — 6 (Taylor 3, Wolfe 1, Thompson 1, Thomsen 1). Rebounds — (Neitzel 6, Taylor 3, Somers 2, Thomsen 2). Assists — (Somers 5, Neitzel 3). Steals — (Neitzel 7, Evans 3). Blocked shots — 1 (Taylor 1).
The Creston JV team trailed Kuemper Catholic by one point with just two minutes left in the game, but a pair of 3-pointers and made free throws helped Kuemper Catholic to a 63-53 win over the Panthers.
“They hit a couple of 3-point shots and we missed some rebounds,” Creston JV coach Kritter Hayes said. “They hit some free throws and that was the biggest difference. They were very big and strong with the ball. The final score didn’t indicate what the game was like.”
Creston falls to 2-1 for the season.
CRESTON (53) — Christian Groumoutis 13, Cole Crawford 10, Cole Thompson 8, Brandon Phipps 7. Rebounds — Alex Nielsen 7, Crawford 6. Steals — Nielsen 2. Assists — Thompson 4. Blocks — Nielsen 3, Thompson 2.
KUEMPER CATHOLIC (63)