As Fowler made a push to tie the game in the second half of their Class D regional semifinal, Muskegon Catholic Central responded with a run to take control.
The Eagles erased a six point deficit in the third quarter with two quick 3-pointers, but an 11-0 run helped the Crusaders to a 56-44 win on Monday night at Grandville.
“We had some great opportunities. We had some great out of bounds plays and we just couldn’t finish. We made dribble drives attacking the tin and just couldn’t finish,” Fowler coach Eric Buhr said of the drought during the run.
After trailing the whole first quarter, Fowler (13-10) took their first lead of the game on a basket on their first possession of the second quarter by senior Drew Simon.
Muskegon Catholic Central led by two at half and scored six of the first eight points in the third quarter before the Eagles got back-to-back triples from seniors Andy Birchmeier and Trent Goerge.
Goerge’s tied the game at 29 after Dustin Wirth got a steal and tried to take it in for a layup. Catholic Central’s Cari Campbell raced back to block the layup try and the ball was loose on the floor before it was picked up and passed out to Goerge for a pivotal three.
But Fowler’s offense struggled after that, as the Crusaders built a new lead after a timeout and sucked the momentum away from the Eagles.
Birchmeier led Fowler with 12 points, all on triples in the second half, while also grabbing five rebounds.
The senior hit three shots from beyond the arc in the fourth quarter to pull the Eagles to within six points at 47-41 with 2:16 remaining, but another potential 3-pointer that would have gotten it to a three point game was just short and the Crusaders salted the game away with free throws.
“I thanked the seniors for all their efforts. I’ve had them for three years and these guys played their tails off for those three seniors,” Buhr said of his nine seniors as the group combined for 41 of the team’s 44 points. “They were a super example for the underclassmen on what it takes to work hard and what it takes to just keep plugging away in spite of adversity. … They’ve just been warriors all the way through.”
Campbell and junior Adam Callow each had 20 points to lead Muskegon Catholic Central. Senior Kevin Koenigsknecht grabbed 10 rebounds for Fowler.