George Diekelman left the court bloodied and slightly battered Saturday night.
But the Stevens Point Area Senior High junior managed to inflict a lot of pain on the upset-minded Eau Claire Memorial boys basketball team before seeking repairs to his nose.
Diekelman scored 10 of his 14 points in the fourth quarter and the resilient sixth-ranked Panthers bounced back from a rough start to the second half to secure a 52-44 conference win over the Old Abes.
“What you see on the court with George with the bloody nose and going after it 100 percent, that’s what he brings,” SPASH coach Scott Anderson said. “I’m a big believer you get what your earn and deserve, and he worked extremely hard this offseason.”
On a night when Memorial made life tough on freshman maestro Trevor Anderson, who was held to three points in the second half to finish with 14, Diekelman stepped into a feature role.
Ben Evergart’s 3-pointers with 3 seconds left in the third quarter gave the Old Abes, who opened the second half with a 9-0 run to erase a halftime deficit, a 36-34 lead.
Continuing a season-long trend of finding itself in nailbiters in the fourth quarter, SPASH had them right where they wanted.
Enter Diekelman who opened the fourth quarter with a 3-pointers from the left wing, and he proceeded to score 10 of the first 11 points of the period for the Panthers, who would build a 45-38 cushion.
“I think it’s just a great will this team has, along with a grittiness and toughness to get it done in the fourth quarter,” said coach Anderson of his team’s season-long knack for finding ways to win.
After Memorial’s David Scnack drilled a 3-pointers to close the gap to 47-44 with 1 minute, 10 seconds left in regulation, the Panthers once again got it done at the free throw line.
SPASH connected on 7 of 8 attempts from the charity stripes in the final minute to seal yet another down to the wire win.
“We have kids who are really competitive, and we do some of the things, like take care of the ball, we play pretty good defense and we have good free throw shooters, you need to win close games,” coach Anderson said.
|Eau Claire Memorial||10||12||14||8||—||44|
E.C. Memorial (44): Ben Evergart 7, Daminiqus Ford 13, Alex Grant 5, Gianni Rossato 4, Malek Lemke 4, David Schnack 7, Nick Uthe 4.
SPASH (52): Trevor Anderson 14, Sam Hauser 7, Sean Van Helden 1, Eric Zelhofer 6, George Diekelman 14, Ryan Sullivan 4, Jon Barnes 3, Aaron Nickel 3.
3-pointers: E.C. Memorial 3 (Everhart, Grant, Schnack), SPASH 4 (Zelhofer 2, Diekelman 2).
Records: SPASH 16-1; Eau Claire Memorial 7-8.