News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Sports

March 11, 2014

Paris rally falls short in Super Sectional

SPRINGFIELD, ILL. — When Petersburg (PORTA) finally showed it was possible to hit a free throw on the west end of the Illinois-Springfield gym Tuesday night — after 12 misses in a row — it spelled the end of a high school comeback by Paris that looked for awhile like it would be one for the ages.

“I thought we had ‘em,” Tiger coach Shawn Nugent said after the Class 2A Super Sectional game won by the Bluejays 58-49.

Such a thought would have seemed like the longest of shots at intermission, when the Tigers trailed 33-16 and had given up the last 12 points of the second quarter.

But it was Riley Spencer’s turn to put the Tigers on his back Tuesday, and his 12-point, seven-rebound third quarter led Paris to the last 14 points of that period, coming within 40-36.

“We told [the Tigers] in the locker room [at halftime] we wanted to get within 10 by the end of the third quarter,” Nugent said later. “I thought we were all right [going into the last quarter] but we just couldn’t get over the hump.”

PORTA, which shot 60 percent for the first half and 55 percent for the game, had proven to be mortal with a 3-for-11 third quarter, but the Bluejays got their accuracy back in the last eight minutes.

Although Logan McDaniel answered a PORTA basket with a 3-pointer that brought the Tigers within 42-39, the Bluejays kept having offensive success and the Tigers couldn’t duplicate their third period. After back-to-back baskets by the Bluejays made the score 52-44, Paris had to foul.

And that was a good thing. The Tigers had missed all six of their first-half free throws at the west end, and the Bluejays missed their first six of the second half, two in the third quarter and four in a row down the stretch.

A 3-pointer by Audie Temples and a steal by Spencer that set up a layup by Hunter Morris cut the lead to 52-49, and another missed one-and-one opportunity gave the Tigers a chance to tie.

A 3-pointer just missed, however, and an offensive rebound was stolen by PORTA’s Matt Muller. He hit the second of two free throws with 48 seconds left to break the west-end jinx, and the Bluejays added five more down the stretch.

“I think [the Tigers’ first-half inaccuracy] had to do with nerves,” Nugent said later. “A lot of guys were hesitant, thinking too much ... and then [the Bluejays] played kind of tight the next period when it looked like we were going to come back on them.”

Whatever the reason, the Tigers were not themselves early. After giving up the game’s first six points, they got within 6-4 on a basket by Jeffrey Martin and a steal and layup by Temples but trailed 18-10 at the half. With Morris and Zack Lueken getting all the points, Paris got within 21-16 only to go completely cold.

Temples finished with 15 points and Spencer had 14 points and 13 rebounds — 11 of the boards in the second half — to lead Paris. Nate Hopper had 16 points, Matt Muller 15 and Nic Sinclair 12 for the Bluejays.

“I’m extremely proud,” Nugent concluded. “I can’t put into words how proud I am.

“To do something that hadn’t been done in Paris for 41 years [since the Otho Tucker-Rick Gosnell team reached the Elite Eight] is huge.”

Although Springfield is more than 100 miles from Paris, the Tiger fans were as numerous and vocal as they had been the previous week at Westville.

“I can’t thank them enough,” Nugent added. “It was nice to see the community rally around these guys ... hopefully it’s something we can continue in the future.”

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