Normally a very potent offensive team, Nodaway-Holt's boys had a hard time putting the ball in the basket through the first three quarters of Wednesday's Northwest Missouri Tournament game against Northeast Nodaway.
In the fourth, the Trojans located their shooting touch and were able to rally from a nine-point deficit for a 49-46 win that advanced them to the championship game Saturday night.
Nodaway-Holt (5-2) put up 23 fourth quarter points and hit 8-15 shots. This contrasted with quarters 1-3 when the Trojans shot under 25 percent and scored a total of 26 points.
"I just told them to relax, and I said 'hey, by the way, everyone, you're about three feet too hard," said Nodaway-Holt head coach Terry Petersen. "I said we're not close right now. Confidence with high school kids, it kind of wanes and gets strong when a couple shots go in, and I think once the kids saw the first three or four finally go in, they relaxed a little bit. We're not usually as bad of shooters as we were the first three quarters, but Northeast's defense had a little bit to do with that."
Nodaway-Holt opened the fourth quarter on a 12-3 run and took its first lead since deep in the second quarter on a bank shot by Stephen Schniedermeyer with 4:14 left.
The Trojans held separate four points leads before Northeast Nodaway came back to tie it at 46 on a jumper by Steve Schulte with 55 seconds left.
On Nodaway's Holt's next trip, Nick Patterson bounced a pass between two Northeast Nodaway defenders to a rolling Jackson Beattie for an easy two off the glass.
This put Nodaway-Holt ahead to stay 48-46 with 35 seconds left.
"We tried it two times, and I think both times we turned the darn thing over," said Petersen. "We hadn't executed it well. I think Nick accelerated with the dribble off the screen and made a nice bounce pass right there to Jackson. We were able to maintain that there towards the end."
Northeast Nodaway missed two potential game-tying shots on its next two possessions, neither of which hit the rim. The second one by senior Kevin Stoll was partially deflected by Schniedermeyer.
Beattie was fouled with 3.8 seconds left and made the front end of a one-and-one to put the Trojans up three.
This set up a bizarre finish.
Beattie's second attempt rimmed off and was rebounded by Schniedermeyer. He instinctively went for the putback and the ball just hung on the back of the rim until the clock ran out and beyond.
"We worked on that play in practice where he gets the rebound and then he just shoots the ball and it stays on the rim like that, just kidding," joked Petersen. "That was kind of indicative of his effort there in the fourth quarter. He did a nice job down on the block."
Page 2 of 2 - The quartet of Patterson, Derek Lemon, Schiedermeyer and Beattie combined for 43 of the team's 49 points.
Lemon had seven of his 13 points in the fourth and made three consecutive outside shots. Beattie scored nine fourth quarter points and finished with 13. Patterson finished with 10 points and hit a fourth quarter three.
Schniedermeyer totaled seven points.
NEN was led by Stoll with 12 points. Aaron Patton and Schulte each had 10.
Patton and Stoll created problems for the Trojans through most of the game with their athleticism.
"They're both really, really athletic and they don't stop moving offensively," said Petersen. "They post a real nice one-two threat offensively. I put Stephen on Stoll, and he's probably got a half step on him, but Stephen did a better job there in the second half. They're tough."
Neither team established control in a first half that featured seven lead changes.
Nodaway-Holt's largest lead of the half was three points at 16-13 in the second quarter.
The Bluejays scored the final two baskets of each quarter to lead 11-8 at the end of one and 21-18 at the half.
Nodaway-Holt was just 7-29 from the field in the first half and started the third quarter 2-11.
The Bluejays were able to extend to a 33-23 lead on a pull-up by Patton with 2:53 left.
At that point, it didn't look like it was going to be the Trojans night.
"A lot of those shots we were taking were open shots and we weren't touching anything," said Petersen. "Once we relaxed and continued to work hard, things kind of went our way."
West Nodaway 44 South Nodaway 43
Freshman Jaden Gillenwater made two free throws with no time left on the clock to give the Rockets a one-point win over the Longhorns.
The Rockets will play Nodaway-Holt in the the first place game Saturday at 8 p.m.
Sophomore guard Trevor Meyer finished with a game-high 17 points. Jonathon Madere scored nine points.
South Nodaway was led by Dakota Murphy with 13 points and Logan Murphy with 12.
The Longhorns get Northeast Nodaway in the third place game Friday at 6:30 p.m.