The Lancers [12-11] ended their season with a heartbreaking loss to the Milford Eagles [13-11] at Lakota West's gym. Both teams played a physical, tenacious defense. Milford is now winners in 6 of their last 7 games.
The Lancers got off to a 9-4 start with Derek Eddings sinking two 3-pointers. La Salle led 11-7 at the end of one frame.
In the 1st 3 minutes of the second quarter, Milford outscored the Lancers 8-2 to take their 1st lead at 15-13. That was when La Salle started pushing the ball down the court for easy layups, running off 7 straight points and forcing the Eagles to call a timeout. At the 1:08 marker La Salle was back in the lead at 20-15. The half ended with the Lancers in front 20-17.
Led by Nathan Vogelpohl, the Lancers did an exceptional job on the Eagles' leading scorer Steve Huxell, holding him to two points in the half. Huxell entered the game the # 2 scorer in the Eastern Cincinnati Conference, averaging 16 points a game.
La Salle shot 50% for the half compared to the Eagles 39%. Milford had 8 more rebounds and 2 more turnovers. The Lancers were led in scoring by Nathan Vogelpohl with 10 points. Jack Liles had 8 points for the Eagles.
As the 3rd quarter started the Lancers continued to push the ball down the court, receiving dividends for their efforts. La Salle scored the 1st 6 points of the 2nd half, jumping out to a 26-17 lead. With 3:33 left in the period the lead had ballooned to 33-20.
The momentum started to change as the Eagles started getting back on defense and the Lancers started missing shots. In the last 2:15 of the quarter Milford scored 9 straight points, making a half court shot to end the quarter as the buzzer sounded. At quarter's end the Lancers were holding on to a 33-31 lead.
The 4th quarter went back and forth, with Milford scoring their 1st 8 points on free throws. When Jeff Queen made 2 free throws with 4:42 to go, the Lancers held a 44-39 lead. Milford scored the next 5 points, and with 2:18 to go the score was tied at 44.
Jay Lemons was fouled with 1:40 remaining. He made both free throws to put the Lancers up 2. With 50 seconds left Cade Riesenbeck made a shot to knot the score at 46. The Lancers called time out with 20.7 left in regulation, setting up their final shot. La Salle missed a shot just below the elbow, got the rebound and missed another open shot from the baseline, sending the game into overtime.
With 1:14 remaining in overtime, Milford's Jack Liles attempted two free throws with the Eagles up 3 points. Liles made the first and missed the second, but the Eagles got the rebound. La Salle was forced to foul with Milford going 8/8 in the final 70 seconds of the overtime for a 59-49 Eagle victory.
The game was won at the free throw line where Milford made 19/22 compared to the Lancers' 8/10.
Jack Liles led all Milford scorers with 17 points. Steve Huxell was held to 10 points going 1/10 from the field. Nathan Vogelpohl led all scorers with 18 points followed by Jay Lemons with 12. La Salle was out rebounded by 17 but had 2 less turnovers than the Eagles. Mike Wergers led the Lancers in rebounds with 8.
The Eagles shot 41% from the field to La Salle's 39%.
Michael Wergers led the GCL in rebounding with an average 8.8 a game. He is the only Lancer to accomplish that feat in the last 14 years.
The following is a personal editorial by guest writer, Gene Jessee.
The Passing of Brian Wagner
It was with a heavy heart that I learned of the passing of Brian Wagner, a 1989 graduate of La Salle. Brian, along with Paul Niederhausen, were the statisticians for all of the Lancers' basketball and football games and made my job so much easier.
Brian loved La Salle, loved sports, and loved doing stats. Not only did he love it, he was very good at it. Capturing stats is a special skill that few people master. Brian was exceptional. Brian and Paul volunteered their services all of these years to La Salle, receiving a special service award for their hours and hours of devotion.
I knew Brian was sick but I never realized the extent of his illness. Brian was a very private person. He didn't talk about himself very much. I will always remember his smile, sitting behind his computer at games. He will be missed. My prayers go out to him, his family and friends.