What a game! Friday night’s match against Sully Buttes was everything a boys high school basketball game should be because the script could have been made into a movie – maybe not like Hoosiers since the underdogs did not win but nevertheless a classic still.
With the Sully Buttes Chargers being the longtime nemesis of the home team that dates back longer than most can remember, with Chargers being the number one ranked team in Region 2 and the Battlers being third, with there being five ties throughout the game and the fifth coming at the very end, with the game going into overtime, and mostly, with there being a game ending scenario that dreams are made of, the game was something special, especially for Sully Buttes since they won the barn burner 64 to 57.
Things looked good for Potter County in the first period because the boys jumped out to a 9 to 3 lead. The Battlers never let the Chargers get into their routine or comfort zone because when the first quarter ended the score was 20 to 11 in favor of Potter County.
As hot as the Battlers started the game, they went just as cold in the second period, and unfortunately as cold as the visitors were in the first quarter they heated up just fine in the second to tie the game at 27 all when the first half expired. Another factor that arose during this first half was the men wearing striped shirts were calling “touch fouls” out on the perimeter and letting “rough play” go unchecked underneath. These touch fouls severely threatened the playing time of the home team players, such as Cooper Logan was sent to the bench halfway in the second quarter after picking up his third foul. And where all the bumping, grinding, pushing, and shoving under the basket between Sully Buttes’ big man Jett Lamb and his equal, Kayden Ahlemeier, there was only one foul called on each of these Goliaths in the first half.
As usual the basket seemed to have a lid on it when the third period commenced for Potter County because it took over three minutes before Drake Bassett flew down the court to get his first break away basket. The play put the spark back in the hometown fans because before this Sully Buttes was laying the wood to the boys. Also, with Cooper Logan returning to play, he too added another fast-break layup before the same men in striped shirts sent him back to the pine with his fourth foul. With the resurgence in the Battlers’ play they managed to stay with their nemesis and the third quarter ended with the score being 41 to 40 – in favor of the purple and gold.
The fourth quarter was the piece de resistance. The two foes exchanged one punch after another because there were two more ties before it looked like the Chargers were going to walk off the court victoriously. It should also be noted that the touch fouls were still plaguing the Battlers because Cooper Logan got his fifth foul almost immediately following his reappearance on the floor in this final quarter and was eliminated from the contest. Yet, all the banging under the boards was still continuing without any fear of reprisals from the officials. With all the commotion and running back and forth there was electricity in the air and the cheering became deafening.
Then with less than 30 seconds to play in the game and to the Battlers’ faithful joy, it looked like Potter County had a chance to at least tie the score up at 54 apiece. Unfortunately, Grant Luikens threw up a long 3-point shot that fell short and Jett Lamb got the rebound for the Chargers. To keep their hopes alive Drake Bassett immediately fouled the big man and sent him to the other side of the court for a one-and-one free-throw attempt with 10.7 seconds left on the clock. The big lefty failed on the first attempt and Grant Luikens grabbed the rebound and went coast-to-coast. With 3.0 seconds left the young Battler jumped in the air and while sailing towards his basket threw up an underhand scope shot that banged off the backboard and fell in.
The whole gym erupted!
More importantly, Caleb Chicoine fouled Luikens while laying up the ball, sending him to the free-throw line for a chance to win the game in regulation play. Sadly, Luikens’ shot rolled around the rim and fell off with the Chargers rebounding the ball with 2.5 seconds left to play, and their coach called an immediate time out.
Following the time out, Jett Lamb threw the ball nearly the length of the court and the long pass could not be handled by his teammate, Grant Johnson.
This error made it Battlers’ ball with 2.2 seconds left.
On the inbound pass to Grant Luikens streaking toward his front court the ball was intercepted by Grant Johnson and his half-court desperation shot hit the rim but bounced off making the score tied at 54 apiece and sending the game into overtime and the crowd into hysteria.
Unfortunately, the overtime belonged to the visitors. They outscored the home team 10 to 3 giving them their 12th win in a row and the Battlers their first loss after having won their last four games in a row. The final score may have been 64 to 57, but anyone there or viewing it on Live-Stream knew the game was a thriller.
In retrospect, the scenario at the end of the game for our Grant Luikens, and their Grant Johnson, was what every little kid dreams about when playing ball behind the barn all by themselves, or when any old man is tossing his crumpled up paper at the waste basket. What child has not placed themselves in that fantasy of shooting the game winning free-throw with almost no time on the clock, or heaving the ball at half-court as the buzzer is sounding when playing all alone to practice — practice for that fantasy to come true someday; or what old man has not wished he had such a chance again to win the game in the final seconds as he, too, throws that piece of paper at the trashcan? And even though the Grants’ shots fell off the rim, they are young and will again have another chance, if not chances, but more importantly, they are “shooters.” A shooter never lets a missed shot haunt him because a shooter only thinks about the next shot.
And watching the Chargers big man, Jett Lamb, and Kayden Ahlemeier of the Battlers have their own tough-man contest under the boards was indeed worth the price of the ticket alone. It was like watching two Hereford Polled Bulls staking out their territory.
And all things consider their personal match was a draw.
In the JV Game the Chargers won that contest too – 54 to 34. Rylee Zweber was high scorer for the Battlers with 10 points and Rafe Wientjes was top scorer for the Chargers and game with 15.
Sully Buttes 64 Potter County 57
Non-conference at Gettysburg
Sully Buttes 11 16 14 13 10 64
Potter County 20 7 13 14 3 — 57
Battlers: Drake Bassett – 8, Cooper Logan – 10, Ethan Pitlick – 6, Seth Sharp – 2, Dylan Drew – 9, Grant Luikens – 12, Kayden Ahlemeier – 10. Chargers: Landon Hepker – 2, Quinn Jordre – 14, Grant Johnson – 21, Caleb Chicoine – 2, Jett Lamb – 10, Nick Wittler – 15.
Totals: 21 9-17 57
3-Pt. FG: SB 7 (Jordre 4, Johnson 3); PC 6 (Logan, Pitlick 2, Luikens, Ahlemeier 1). Rebounds: SB 39 (Johsnon 13); PV 36 (Luikens 9). Fouls: SB 17; PC 19. Fouled Out: SB (Chicone); PC (Bassett, Logan). Turnovers: SB 19; PC 16.