Boys basketball seals victory against Gardner-Edgerton, 61-55

Matt Antonic, Sports Editor

The lead changes were many, the tension great, but the Tigers managed to hold of the Trailblazers of Gardner-Edgerton in overtime on Friday, 61-55, in a great kickoff to the final stretch of the regular season.

Point-guard senior Jack Pagenkopf led the charge with 25 points, and guard sophomore Tyler Geiman added 12 points in the victory.

While the Tigers played a high-intensity game for most of the second half and overtime, the beginning of the game was the complete opposite. Both teams were sluggish and slow, and the Tigers only made a combined two field goals. Gardner held a slim 6-5 lead at the buzzer.

In the second quarter, the Tigers transition defense improved, as did the pace of the offense, but the shots still struggled to fall. Tough defense kept the Trailblazers in check, and the teams headed to the locker room tied 18-18.

As has been the case for much of the season, the Tigers came out of halftime on fire. The team combined for one of the best quarters of the season scoring 18 points. Geiman and guards senior Alex Martin and junior Will Brennan combined for five total three-pointers, and the Tigers held a slim one-point lead heading into the final period.

In the fourth quarter, the the Trail-Blazers attempted to foul Pagenkopf into submission, sending him to the free-throw line seven times. Pagenkopf hit six of seven, the final shot to tie the game. The Trailblazers had the ball for the last shot, but the tough Tiger defense forced a last second turnover, sending the game to overtime.

Once again, the Trailblazers attempted to stop Pagenkopf by fouling him, but it proved to be fruitless. Pagenkopf hit 9 of 10 free throws in the overtime period, bringing him to his final tally of 25 points. The Tigers outscored Gardner 10-4 in overtime and ran out the final seconds for a crucial league victory.

Coach Dwight Williams reflected on how free throws helped the team win a difficult road challenge.

“We’ve been focusing on our free throws through this season, and they helped us win this game,” he said. “Free throws are just as important as defense, and I’m really proud of our guys for stepping up and hitting them.”

Pagenkopf said the road win was important for the team moving into the final stretch of the season.

“It’s great to get our first road win,” Pagenkopf said. “We have [BV Northwest] next, and we beat them last time, so they’ll be coming for us.”