Tigers clutch down stretch in regional semifinals

by Matt Kraus Review Co respondent

BLAKE BAUER of St. Mary’s Springs draws a crowd of Howards Grove defenders during Friday’s regional basketball semifinals. The Tigers include Eric Reinemann (far left), Caleb Holzman (23), Derrick Grimm (2), Zac Stauss (24) and Devin Gallenberger. – Photo by Terry Schaller BLAKE BAUER of St. Mary’s Springs draws a crowd of Howards Grove defenders during Friday’s regional basketball semifinals. The Tigers include Eric Reinemann (far left), Caleb Holzman (23), Derrick Grimm (2), Zac Stauss (24) and Devin Gallenberger. – Photo by Terry Schaller HOWARDS GROVE – Freethrow shooting has been a struggle throughout the season for the Howards Grove Tigers’ boys basketball team. However, getting to the line significantly more often than their opponent proved to be a key in the Tigers’ 59-51 victory over Fond du Lac St. Mary’s Springs.

Friday night’s Division 4 regional semifinal saw the No. 2-seeded Tigers shoot only 48 percent from the line – converting 14 of 30 attempts. They made three more foul shots than the visiting Ledgers attempted.

HGHS, a No. 2 seed, improved to 19-4 on the season. St. Mary’s Springs, a No. 7 seed, ended its season at 12-12.

The Tigers found themselves in a 42-42 tie with 5:37 remaining, but shooting 12-for-17 from the free throw line over the following five minutes helped secure the victory.

On three consecutive possessions, Devin Gallenberger made two free throws, scored on a drive to the basket and converted a third free throw to give the Tigers a 47- 44 lead. Caleb Holzman grabbed an offensive rebound on the following Tigers’ possession, scored and was fouled. He missed the free throw but the Tigers had a 49-44 lead.

The Ledgers went inside to senior center Kurt Mueller for his only basket of the game. Mueller scored 18 points in the team’s early-season match-up (won by St. Mary’s, 64- 63).

“We tried to defend both their inside game and their outside game. We did a good job on the inside. The last time we played Mueller, he had 18 and [Austin] Feyen scored 12,” said Tiger head coach Eric Worth.

Two possessions later, Gallenberger hit a wide-open, three-point basket after the Tigers quickly passed the ball out of the Ledgers’ full-court trap to give HGHS a 52-46 lead with 2:38 remaining.

Gallenberger grabbed a defensive rebound following a Ledgers’ timeout and got the ball ahead to Derrick Grimm who was fouled and sent to the free-throw line. He wasn’t able to convert but Springs turned the ball back over to the Tigers.

Gallenberger broke the Ledgers’ full-court press on his own and found Pedrin cutting to the hoop. Pedrin was fouled on his missed shot and made the two free throws.

Following the fourth threepointer by Ledgers’ junior guard Blake Bauer, Grimm was fouled and made two free throws. The teams exchanged two made free throws by Pedrin and Bauer to give the Tigers a 58-51 lead with 40 seconds remaining.

The Ledgers continued to foul and send the Tigers to the foul line for six more attempts, Gallenberger made one of the attempts for the 59- 51 final score.

“They are a good rhythm- shooting team. We had trouble getting out to them in the first half. Both teams played hard-nosed defense and we were able to get the advantage down the stretch,” said Worth.

The Tigers held a 4-3 lead when Gallenberger committed his second personal foul just four minutes into the game, but Pedrin, who replaced Gallenberger, was ready for the call – hitting three pointers on consecutive trips and scoring from under the hoop after a Springs timeout and turnover, to give HGHS a 12-3 lead.

Stoegbauer hit two three-pointers to bring the Ledgers to within three at 15-12.

With Springs looking to tie, Micah Rautmann picked up a steal for the Tigers and Grimm scored on a layup to extend the lead.

Bauer connected on a three and the teams exchanged single free throws and baskets to give Howards Grove a 20-18 lead with 4:37 remaining in the half.

The Tigers scored eight in a row on a Gallenberger’s three-pointer, Pedrin free throw, and lay-ups by Stauss and Gallenberger to give the Tigers a 10-point lead.

Bauer stopped the rally with a three-pointer, and made two free throws after Eric Reinemann scored for Howards Grove. A free throw by Gallenberger gave the Tigers a 31-23 half-time lead.

The Tigers held a 36-30 lead five minutes into the second half when Joshua Moul hit a three from the baseline, in front of the Ledgers’ bench. Stoegbauer followed with a baseline score to the cut the lead to 36-35.

On the next Ledgers’ possession, Gallenberger was got a steal and drove to the Howards Grove hood for a basket and three-point lead. Joshua Ditter answered with a threepointer to tie the game 38-38 with 10:18 to go. The teams struggled back-and-forth with one and two point leads until the Tigers gained the three-point advantage with 5:37 remaining.

Gallenberger and Pedrin led the Tigers offense, with 21 and 19 points, respectively.

Other statistical leaders for the Tigers were: Stauss, 8 rebounds; Holzmann, 3 assists; Jordan Miller, 2 blocks; Gallengberger, Stauss and Rautmann, 2 steals each.

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