For the second time in 10 days, the South Tama boys basketball team has lost a heart-breaking game where it had a chance to win during the waning moments.
The Trojans were narrowly beaten in double overtime against North Iowa Cedar League West Division leader West Marshall, who dropped its first conference game of the season last week, on Jan. 15. On Friday, the Trojans (6-10) were neck-and-neck down the stretch with BCLUW, but came up one point short, losing 48-47.
"You're going to have to give credit to BCLUW," STC coach Lonnie Hammond said. "They played hard. They made some big shots and we made some big shots, but they made one more than we did.
South Tama senior Sam Kuhter shoots a layup during Friday’s home game against BCLUW. Kuhter and the Trojans fell one-point short as they lost 48-47.
"This is one where you take two hours, do what you do and get over it," he said. "We have a tough game tomorrow."
STC seniors Jose Fonseca and Daryl Bidwell each made 1-of-2 free throws to start the fourth quarter, giving STC a 40-39 lead over the Comets. Following Bidwell's second shot, sophomore Grant Koch grabbed the rebound and dished it to senior Sam Kuhter for the basket. BCLUW responded with two baskets during the next two minutes to take a 44-42 lead with 3:20 remaining in the game.
Koch scored a minute later to tie the contest. With 1:31 left, senior Clay Waterbury sank 1-of-2 foul shots to give STC a quick lead. South Tama made only 9-of-16 free throws Friday night.
"We didn't foul tonight," Hammond said. "We didn't put them on the free throw line. But we missed too many free throws."
During the next 45 seconds, South Tama turned the ball over and missed a reverse layup. Meanwhile, BCLUW also missed an open layup. Then the Comets made a jump shot with 0:47 left to a 46-45 lead. Koch gave the Trojans the lead 14 seconds later with a six-foot jumper.
BCLUW answered with another jump shot. This one rolled around the rim twice before going in with 13 seconds left in the game. After a South Tama timeout, Kuhter found senior Brad Evans in the corner for a wide-open three-pointer. Evans' shot appeared good, but was just long off the back of the rim. The Comets grabbed the rebound and the game ended.
"Frustrating, absolutely," Hammond said of the loss. "We got a wide open look at the end," Hammond said. "We ran that play well and all but one parts of it were there. If you can get a shot that wide open, you're lucky. We also had a shot at the offensive rebound.
"We had four options and three of them opened up," he said of the last possession. "They took Grant away. By doing that, it opened up the other two and Sam found one of them. We'll take that. If they'll give us Grant on the block, we'll take it, but they doubled him. We had the back side open and we found it."
Both teams remained nearly even the entire game. STC jumped out to an 11-5 lead early in the game, thanks to a three-pointer from Fonseca. However, BCLUW fought back and tied the game at end of the first quarter with a three. Both offenses slowed down in the second quarter, but a Waterbury three-pointer as time expired gave STC a 25-24 lead at halftime.
South Tama and BCLUW exchanged the lead five times and tied the score three times during the third quarter. A late bucket gave the Comets a one-point advantage heading into the final period.
"When a game comes down to the final possession, generally that means somewhere earlier, you didn't do what you needed to do," Hammond said. "If we make free throws, a layup or we get a layup, the situation may change because now it's in our control on what to do.
"I'm proud of the effort," he added. "Our execution could maybe be a bit better. Unfortunately, that's competition. Of course, I'd be much happier if we were on the other side of it. We're not playing badly. We gave up 48 points on defense. That's pretty good."
STC will play at Gladbrook-Reinbeck on Tuesday and at AGWSR on Friday.