Mount Pulaski loses on the court to Warrensburg-Latham

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[November 30, 2016]  The Hilltoppers fell to Warrensburg-Latham 52-47 at home Tuesday night despite leading for the first two quarters and holding even with the Cardinals throughout three quarters of play. It was that fourth quarter that got the Hilltoppers again, same story, different day.

Starting with the positive, though, Mount Pulaski did jump out to an early 7-0 lead to start the game and this prompted Cardinals Coach Vic Binkley to call a timeout and get his team to regroup. They did and they came out and ran off five straight points on the Hilltoppers.

Brandon Kretzinger then hit a three and the lead was 10-5 in favor of Mount Pulaski.

Around the 2:00 mark Gezus Oliver hit back to back threes for the Hilltoppers and the lead was extended to 18-11.

The Cardinals came flying back for a couple more baskets and the lead was cut to 18-15 as the first quarter buzzer sounded. Binkley’s team stepped up their defense in the second quarter and because of their hustle and strong defense, the Hilltoppers lost the lead. Alex Coers hit a three with 3:13 on the clock and the Cardinals had their first lead of the game, 23-21.

Brandon Kretzinger sinks two late game free throws for Mount Pulaski.  Kretzinger finished with a team-leading 14 points and the 5’8 freshman also pulled down 9 rebounds.

Kretzinger tied the game with a couple free throws.

Seconds later Kretzinger spotted Lukas Aylesworth running through the lane and quickly dumped off a pass to the senior, who laid the ball in nicely for two and Mount Pulaski had earned the lead back, 25-23.

It would be Peyton Taylor padding the lead with two points off the offensive rebound and just like that the Hilltoppers were back on track, leading 27-23.

But with 1:11 left to play in the second quarter the Hilltoppers would begin to roll off the track. Their leading scorer for the season, Gezus Oliver, apparently rolled an ankle and after laying on the court for several minutes, he had to be carried off by teammates. Oliver’s ankle looked pretty bad as he left the gym at halftime.

Meanwhile Mount Pulaski could not get another basket the rest of the quarter, but neither could the Cardinals. The Hilltoppers lead at the half stayed at 27-23.

It was nice to stare at the halftime lead because it did disappear in the third quarter early and the Hilltoppers had to fight their way back.

Andrew Butts tied the game at 27-27 with his basket, but then Mount Pulaski answered back with four points, two nice plays in the paint here in fact. First it was Kretzinger finding Aylesworth open again in the lane and dishing off to him for two points. Then Nate Dyer found Taylor sneaking into the paint and he quickly tossed the ball into him for another two points. Good strong, quick ball movement from the Hilltoppers to get the lead back, 31-27 the score.

But Butts and Coers on the Cardinals side had something else to say about that. They answered by first going baseline (Butts) and then hitting a jumper (Coers) and the game was tied again.

Mount Pulaski failed to score on the next opportunity so the Cardinals’ Joe Gustafson decided he would just go to the basket with a nice little finger roll, and he did. The Cardinals were back on top 33-31.

Taylor tied it up again with just under two minutes to play in the quarter and then Warrensburg took the lead back, again. This game of back and forth ended with Kretzinger stopping and popping a sweet little jumper good for two points and as the third quarter buzzer sounded the game was tied 35-35.

Moving on to the fourth quarter. The first nearly four minutes of the quarter here saw very little scoring action for either team, but it would be the Cardinals jumping out to a 39-37 lead with 4:32 showing on the clock.

The Cardinals did not even have to look over their shoulder from this point on. The turnovers that ensued and the missed free throws just allowed the Hilltoppers to write their own story.

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The fourth quarter has been a struggle all season for Mount Pulaski and this was just more of the same, sadly. Giving due credit to Jarius Ingram of Warrensburg-Latham, though. The sophomore hit a jumper for the Cardinals and then quickly stole the ball from the Hilltoppers just after they inbounded it and promptly turned around and connected for the three. The Cardinals lead would be 44-37 after all this.

Mount Pulaski called a timeout at 2:32 after Dyer made two free throws, but Warrensburg-Latham was still in command with the 45-39 lead.

The final two minutes of the game the Cardinals continued to control pretty much. A game of keep away ensued and the Hilltoppers just had to foul. At least the Cardinals did not score for about a minute, but neither did Mount Pulaski.

Finally Kretzinger would go to the line and sink two free throws and then seconds later he would get another chance at the line and sink 1 of 2 free throws. The lead was cut to 45-42, but time was running out for Mount Pulaski.

Coers hit his free throws for the Cardinals and the lead was 47-42 with 29.5 seconds left. Gustafson also hit a couple free throws for the Cardinals near the end and the lead was 49-42.

It was a great effort by Aylesworth of Mount Pulaski in the final twelve seconds of the game to knock down five points, one basket coming on a surprise three point shot, but it was a little too late.

Coers hit two more free throws with 1.4 seconds left to send the Cardinal fans home happy with a 52-47 victory.

Coers finished with 18 points for the Cardinals, while Butts finished with 13 points.

Kretzinger led Mount Pulaski with 14 points and it was Taylor with the double-double, 10 points and 10 rebounds on the night.

The real story here: free throws. Mount Pulaski shot 5 for 13 in the fourth quarter and Warrensburg-Latham was 9 for 14 at the line in the final quarter. A game-deciding factor for the home team for sure.

Mount Pulaski falls to 1-4 on the season and will travel to Cerro Gordo Friday night.

The Mount Pulaski JV also fell to Warrensburg-Latham 37-29.

Dustin Murphy led the JV with 11 points and AJ Speasl had 14 points for the Cardinals.

Mount Pulaski scoring

Kretzinger 14
Taylor 10
Aylesworth 9
Griesheim 7
Oliver 3
Drake 2
Dyer 2

Warrensburg-Latham scoring

Coers 18
Butts 13
Gustafson 8
Ingram 6
Yaroch 4
Terneus 2
Nottelmann 2

[Teena Lowery]

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