Mount Pulaski takes the Tomahawk from Hartsburg-Emden

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[January 07, 2017]  The Tomahawk Trophy keeps on traveling. The Hartsburg-Emden Stags just took the trophy away from the Athens Warriors Tuesday night, and now the Mount Pulaski Hilltopper have it in their possession with Friday night’s 47-42 win over the Stags.

The trophy was up for grabs all night long as the two teams battled back and forth with several lead changes throughout the game. After a first quarter riddled with several turnovers on both sides the Hilltoppers held a 9-8 lead and the large crowd at Hartsburg was settling in for an exciting night of basketball.

Early in the second quarter as Brody Baker hit his first three of the game to tie the score at 11-11, the orange and black crowd erupted. Baker was fired up running back down the court and this would just be the beginning of igniting the Stags to a 17 point quarter.

Brady Wolpert’s first and only three of the game would follow shortly after and give the Stags a 14-13 lead as now everyone in the orange and black crowd was fired up. A steal by Baker and a layup to follow extended the Stags lead to 16-13 over Mount Pulaski.

The Stags had definitely hit a groove at this point. A Baker alley-oop pass into 6’5 senior Alec Hayes, who finished it off in sweet fashion for two points, would be the icing on the cake for the Stags during this run.

But with the Stags lead 18-14, Mount Pulaski got hot and that Stags lead melted away. Baskets by Gezus Oliver and Peyton Taylor gave Mount Pulaski the 19-18 lead and it was the purple and gold crowd’s turn to cheer.

After over a minute of misses from both sides and a fight for the ball that saw multiple players scrambling on the floor, Hartem ended up with the ball and the lead back. Hayes fired a pass into Alex Vetter, who tossed it in from inside the paint for the 20-19 lead.

The teams kept the pace going back and forth with Brandon Kretzinger connecting for a three to give the lead back to MP, then it was Hayes for HE with his own three, and just case you’ve lost track, the score is 23-22 Hartem with the quarter winding down.

A steal by Vetter and his quick layup to the basket would close out the first half and Hartem would hold a 25-22 lead over Mount Pulaski.

The Stags would hold the lead in the third quarter until around the 4:00 minute mark when Taylor would score in the paint for Mount Pulaski and the lead was 29-28 Hilltoppers.

That was short-lived as Baker hit a three and from this point on with every shot released from the Stags' hands, the hometown crowd was on their feet with their hands in the air.

The game would only get more intense from this moment on. Mount Pulaski tied the game 31-31 as Lukas Aylesworth muscled his way thru the lane for two. Then Antonio Coit-Kirk answered back with two points.

As Baker sank a free throw the Hartem lead was 34-31 with the third quarter almost complete. To finish things off, Oliver pulled down the rebound after Kretzinger missed three and as Oliver laid the ball in thru the net, Mount Pulaski edged closer, 34-33 the score to end the third quarter action.

Eight more exciting minutes left and it is anybody’s ballgame. Oliver would get the lead back in Mount Pulaski’s favor early to start the fourth quarter, but then Hartem went on a 6-0 run and just like that the Stags were in command 40-35.

The tide turned quickly, however. Mount Pulaski got a bucket from Eli Griesheim, who had been pretty quiet most of the night, and this would be the beginning of Mount Pulaski’s run at getting the Tomahawk Trophy.

After Hartem missed a couple shot attempts and a couple free throws, and Mount Pulaski missing their share, too, Seth Huff connected for what scorekeeper Greg Taylor called the “shot of the game.” Huff’s three at the 2:34 mark tied the game at 40-40 and the Mount Pulaski crowd erupted. Huff’s mom, Jo, could be spotted as the first one off her bleacher seat and the rest of the purple and gold crowd erupted as well.

The game would be tied at 42-42 a couple seconds later, then Mount Pulaski would pull away, thanks to Oliver, who in fact scored the final seven points of the game for the Hilltoppers.

As Mount Pulaski broke the Hartem press easily, it was Oliver gliding to the basket for a layup up and the 44-42 lead as 46.1 seconds remained. Oliver would sink his free throw on the play and the 45-42 lead was a nice cushion this late in the game.

Of course, it was still anybody’s game but as Coit-Kirk missed a shot under the basket with 6’8 Taylor hovering over him, the deck was stacked in Mount Pulaski’s favor as they regained possession with 18.7 seconds left in the game.

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Peyton Taylor stops Antonio Coit-Kirk from scoring late in the game Friday night.  Mount Pulaski defeated Hartem 47-42 and claimed the Tomahawk Trophy.

 As Hartem was forced to foul, Taylor would miss a free throw here, but Mount Pulaski would wind up with the ball anyway. Hayes was then forced to foul Oliver and the junior was clutch in scoring both free throws and he sealed the 47-42 victory right here.

Hartem was able to regain possession one last time as the clocked showed 7.5 seconds, but Wolpert’s shot missed and Mount Pulaski controlled the ball in the final seconds and time just ran out for the Stags.

Mount Pulaski was leaving town happy with the Tomahawk Trophy in tow, a 47-42 victory and the Hilltoppers also bumped their record up to 8-7 on the season.

Gezus Oliver led all scorers with 17 points.

Peyton Taylor had 14 points for Mount Pulaski.

Brody Baker led Hartem with 14 points and Alec Hayes chipped in 10 points.

Mount Pulaski Head Coach Ryan Deibert knew what his team had to do Friday night to accomplish the win. "We knew going into it we were going to have to stay down and get the shooters and get the first rebound. Our game plan was to contest shots and pull the rebound.” Deibert noted the Stags had six threes in the first half and he knew his team had to shut down that offensive threat from the outside. "The fourth quarter came around when it was tight and we took away the three from them. It was as simple as getting there, staying down, moving and contesting and taking away the three. When we did that it ended up in our favor.”

Mount Pulaski also won the Junior Varsity contest 37-24.

Jon Shehorn led Mount Pulaski with 18 points. Nate Dyer poured in 8 points for the Hilltoppers.

Mount Pulaski will defend the Tomahawk Trophy Friday night when the Hilltoppers host Midwest Central.

Mount Pulaski Varsity scoring

Oliver 17
Taylor 14
Kretzinger 6
Aylesworth 5
Huff 3
Griesheim 2

Hartem Varsity scoring

Baker 14
Hayes 10
Vetter 7
Phillips 4
Coit-Kirk 4
Wolpert 3

Mount Pulaski JV scoring

Shehorn 18
Dyer 8
Rule 4
Hinds 3
Hayes 2
Farris 1
Fricke 1

Hartem JV scoring

Hayes 6
Canon 6
Watt 5
Hopkins 3
Buck 2
Thompson 2

[Teena Lowery]

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