The lineup and smiles kept getting wider Saturday afternoon for Dieterich’s trophy photograph at the National Trail Conference Tournament.
The Movin’ Maroons had just won the third-place game against Neoga, 48-41. So Dieterich basketball coach Josh Krumwiede welcomed his coaching staff, team managers and the Dieterich cheerleaders to pose with the basketball players. That moment erased some of the disappointment from the night before when Dieterich lost a chance at the championship game.
Obviously, third place was not Dieterich’s goal, but Krumwiede told his players they had a lot to be proud from the tournament. They started with an impressive win over South Central, 48-35, with three players, Collin Hartke, Cole Niebrugge and Derek Kuhl each in double figures on points. Then on Friday, the Maroons fell short against Altamont, 62-50, but Dieterich freshman guard Pete Britton lighted up the scoreboard with 21 points that night.
“We won third place. We’re deserving of a photo and of the trophy. We were the three seed coming into the tournament and that’s what we ended up getting. We almost went beyond. I think we feel good the way we’re coming out of this tournament,” Krumwiede said after the trophy photo session that included plenty of family members snapping shots with their smart phones.
Those loved ones had plenty to cheer about in the first half of the Neoga game in the Altamont gym. The Moving Maroons jumped out to an early lead with penetrating layups and accurate arcing shots – Dieterich would score five 3-pointers in the contest, a figure matched by the Neoga Indians.
Neoga would get into the game and was within 2 points of Dieterich, 12-10, at the end of the first quarter. In the second quarter, Dieterich was dominant, outscoring Neoga 10 to 5. The Maroons were taking smart shots and winning the battle on the boards. That helped them take a 22-15 lead into the locker room.
In the third quarter, Neoga made a comeback by whittling at Dieterich’s lead. At one point, the Indians were within 3 points by taking advantage of the Dieterich defense. But the Maroons regained a good cushion with a combination of field goals and free throws.
“Trevor Roy is such an athletic player that he creates for so many of the Neoga kids, opportunities where they can shoot,” Krumwiede explained. “They give him the chance to drive the ball to the middle and if you can keep him out of the middle you should stop anyone else from doing anything else. But he’s so good at picking you apart when you collapse on him because if you don’t collapse on him, he’s going to score. But when he kicks out to those shooters, they’re so prepared to catch and shoot. You saw [Paci] McClure and [Nick] Titus hit some big shots against us. Thankfully, they missed some down the stretch.”
The Indians were off target in the last few minutes of the game. There were plenty of foul calls down in the closing minutes and Neoga gained the advantage with uncanny accuracy at the charity stripe.
His players made 13 of 17 free throws, and had a good streak going in the fourth quarter. Three misses came in the final minute when the Maroons were comfortably ahead. Those free shots paid off for Dieterich in a big way.
“I’m proud of the way our team shot free throws in this game. We haven’t been the best free-throw shooting team this year. We’ve had some games where it’s been tough for us because we have an inability to make free throws, especially missing the front end of a one-and-one. But today, we made them when we needed to.”
Kuhl led the Maroons with 15 points and was 6 for 6 on free throws. Bryce Budde scored 10 points for Dieterich and was perfect with 3 of 3 at the line. Britton launched guided missiles for a pair of 3-pointers and added a field goal for 8 points. Niebrugge also scored 8 points and Collin Hartke added 7 points.
Krumwiede had praise for all his players with their efforts during the tournament, but he emphasized Saturday’s win was special for his two senior players, Hartke and Niebrugge.
“This is their last NTC tournament game and they’re able to go out on a win,” Krumwiede said. “I think that’s important for them and our team moving forward. Even though it was ugly at times those guys can accept how they finished with the NTC. Those seniors put in the hard work and time to make our team better and we really need them to be the senior leaders they have been all year.”
The win improved Dieterich’s season record to 16-7 with the postseason coming up soon.