NEW CARLISLE — With single digits left on the clock in regulation, South Bend Riley forward Blake Wesley dribbled the ball at the left wing, just beyond the 3-point arc.
It was obvious he was going to take the last shot of the game for the Wildcats (11-8, 4-3 Northern Indiana Conference). He scored 29 points on the night, so it only made sense to put the ball in his hands with the score knotted up at 58 apiece.
Wesley drove left, looking for a lane to the basket. New Prairie senior guard Chase Ketterer anticipated as such, setting his feet and drawing a charge with just under three seconds remaining in the game.
His crowd-enthusing defensive play seemed to be a game-saver for the Cougars, but they couldn’t get it done in overtime as they fell to South Bend Riley, 66-61 Friday night in an NIC thriller.
“It was definitely a tough one that we thought we could’ve really had,” Ketterer said. “We were definitely disappointed but know we have to learn from games like this one... We just have to start doing the little things right for the whole game. Once we do those things, games like this can really be won.”
Ketterer was as bummed as anyone on New Prairie, and rightfully so. Whether it were executing 360-degree, spinning layups or dishing off no-look passes to wide open, cutting teammates down low, he could do no wrong.
Ketterer totaled 18 points on an efficient 7-of-12 shooting clip. He also added eight assists, three rebounds and a steal to his total for what was an all-around dominant performance.
“At the beginning of the game, I really knew no one on that team could guard me,” Ketterer said. “So I would take it to the basket whenever I could to score or pass to my teammates.”
Had he not been in foul trouble, registering four on the game, maybe things could have ended differently for the Cougars, who could have really used his production both scoring and passing at different points.
“It’s not just what you do in overtime or the last minutes of the fourth quarter,” New Prairie coach Mike Bauer said. “It’s the little things in different parts of the game that we didn’t capitalize on that may have cost us this on. It would’ve been nice to have Chase out there more, but we couldn’t afford that since he was in a bit of foul trouble.”
Although Bauer did point out that there were a few moments his team could have improved upon, he’s very pleased with the overall progression of his team from when he took over at the beginning of the season, to now.
“We’re playing really good basketball,” Bauer said. “The record (9-10, 1-7 NIC) isn’t showing it, but we’re competing against teams that are 100-plus spots ahead of us in the Sagarin rankings and taking them to overtime. I think we can really use tonight as a sign we’re getting better, but also it shows us what we need to work on with the state tournament coming up soon. That’s what we’re really focused on right now.”
The Cougars travel to Westville to square off with the Blackhawks at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, starting a three-game road stretch.