HARTINGTON — Cedar Catholic took down the two-time defending state champions last Tuesday, defeating Ponca 72-65.
It was a marathon of a game, with 20 lead changes and eight ties over the 32 minutes of regulation.
For Cedar Catholic, Myles Thoene and Mat-thew Becker led the way, each scoring a game-high 22 points.
Becker added 10 rebounds to that performance for yet another double-double of the year.
Thoene started the game with a hot hand, but three early fouls made him sit almost the entire second quarter before checking back in for the second half.
“I got some stupid fouls that I shouldn’t have had, and that got me on the bench and got me cold, but after halftime, I had to get driving and get going,” said Thoene. “That allowed me to get a lot of confidence to play well in the second half.”
Cedar head coach Matt Steffen said the fouls mainly came from the sophomore’s eagerness to make a play on defense.
There were seven lead changes in the first quarter, as both teams fought for control early in the game. Ponca took a 21-20 lead into half- time after Gage McGill hit two free throws with seconds left in the quarter.
The Indians would lead for most of the second quarter, following Carter Kingsbury’s lead. The junior found himself at the line quite often on the night. He had eight points in the second quarter, including on a layup that gave Ponca back the lead after Matthew Becker took a steal on a fast break for a two-handed slam dunk to brie y give Cedar Catholic the lead.
The duo of Becker and Kingsbury battled for most of the night, and Becker had the final work of the first half when he grabbed an offensive rebound and made a put-back layup to give the Trojans a 39-38 lead.
The game was chippy at times, and Thoene was not the only player to deal with foul trouble. Both teams found their way into the double bonus in the first half, and then again in the second half.
Becker and Kingsbury even forced some fouls from each other, each taking two charges during the night.
In the third quarter, Kingsbury free throws gave Ponca the lead, and again the Indians held onto the lead for much of the third quarter.
A three-pointer by Josh Pinkelman gave Cedar the lead, but Evan Anderson made a basket to take the lead right back for Ponca.
Cedar then closed out the third quarter with a full-court press, and Matthew Becker would swipe another steal and finish the play with another two-handed slam dunk to give the Trojans a 50-49 lead.
Cedar then would have an inbounds pass with 2.4 seconds left in the quarter, and a miscommunication forced Pinkelman’s pass to sail out of bounds without touching a single player. Ponca would take advantage of the turnover, feeding Brandon Kneifl in the corner for a three-pointer at the buzzer.
Ponca led 52-50 heading into the final quarter. So far there had been 19 lead changes and seven ties.
A Myles Thoene basket tied things up at 52- 52 to start the fourth quarter, and Tate Thoene would then make a three-pointer to give Cedar the lead.
Matthew Becker would then be fouled on a rebound and layup, giving Kingsbury his fourth foul of the night. The layup by Becker made it 57-52, the largest lead for either team so far on the night.
“I felt like we were down by three most of the game and every time we would cut it down to one they would score and put it back at three,” said Steffen. “We nally got over that hump there, but they are a good team.”
Ponca would stick around, not letting the lead grow beyond seven points, but down four with 1:36 left in the game, Carkter Kingsbury picked up his fth foul to leave the game with a team-high 19 points.
Ponca still battled. A three by Brandon Knei kept the lead at four, and a Paul Masin put-back off an offensive rebound cut the lead to three.
With nine seconds left, Pinkelman was sent to the line. He made both free throws to extend the lead to ve.
“At first, I was like I hope I don’t miss these, but then I was like ‘well, I have probably shot well over 1,000 free throws on that hoop’ right there, and I didn’t see why it had to be any different than doing it at practice,” said Pinkelman. “So I just calmed myself down, took a deep breath, and shot them up there.”
The senior then grabbed a steal on the inbounds pass. He dished it to Myles Thoene down low who was fouled.
Thoene made both free throws to seal the victory.
“I am very comfortable [at the line],” said Thoene. “I have shot so many shots in my life. I like doing it and it is not tough I like the opportunity and when it comes I’m glad to have it.”
The Cedar win can be huge for Subdistricts depending how Ponca and Laurel-Concord-Coleridge play in the Lewis & Clark Conference Tournament. All three are in the same subdistrict and are fighting for the top seed. Currently, that would fall to LCC.
Regardless, Pinkelman knows how big this win can be for a young team where he and Becker are the only seniors.
“To be able to play our last regular season game against Ponca on our home court and to come out with a win with a crowd like that and the atmosphere the way it was, we couldn’t have asked for anything more.”
The win marks five straight for Cedar Catholic, as the team has not lost since hosting Laurel-Concord-Coleridge on Jan. 3.
With the win, Cedar next focused on the Mid State Conference Tournament beginning on Tuesday in Norfolk. The Trojans are the top seed and played Pierce on Tuesday night in the first round.
Ponca 21 17 14 13 — 65
Cedar 20 19 11 22 — 72
Team Stats P C
FG — 27-55
3PT — 4-15
FT — 14-21
REB — 30
TO — 4
Cedar Catholic - Myles Thoene, 22; Matthew Becker, 22; Tate Thoene, 11; Josh Pinkelman, 7; Jacob Keiser, 4; Mason Schaefer, 4; Brady Steffen, 2.
Cedar Catholic - Matthew Becker, 10; Tate Thoene, 5; Jacob Keiser, 4; Cole Becker, 3; Josh Pinkelman, 2; Myles Thoene, 2; Mason Schaefer, 2; Brady Steffen, 2.
Cedar Catholic - Tate Thoene, 3; Matthew Becker, 2; Jacob Keiser, 2; Josh Pinkelman, 2; Cole Becker, 1.
Cedar Catholic - Matthew Becker, 3; Tate Thoene, 3; Myles Thoene, 3; Brady Steffen, 3; Jacob Keiser, 2; Josh Pinkelman, 1.
Cedar Catholic - Mason Schaefer, 1; Myles Thoene, 1; Matthew Becker, 1.