Before I could even ask how the game went, an enthralling battle with Region 24 rival Shawnee, L&C men’s basketball head coach Doug Stotler pointed out a mistake he had made on the game’s final possession.
“I was so intent on getting a sub in to get our defense set up, because I didn’t want them to run a last-second play off of a made foul shot.” said Stotler. “A missed foul shot makes it harder (for Shawnee) to run a play, because we can get our defense back. But a made foul shot, they usually have something in mind, and I just blew it (not planning for that). I’m so grateful that it didn’t cost us.”
The final possession of the game, the play in question, saw Stotler sub in Amandas Urkis, L&C’s tallest player at 6’8”, for rebounding purposes. Shawnee had a chance to tie the game with a three-pointer, but never really had a good look at the basket. Their final attempt clanged off the rim with about two seconds to go, and the clock ticked to zero as L&C secured the rebound. The Trailblazers pulled out a thriller, 74-71.
“What an important game for us to win, it ended a four game losing streak.” Stotler acknowledged. “The teams we lost to were good teams, I just think there’s a couple of games where we just didn’t play very hard, then you get down a little bit. But (the win) is such a shot in the arm, it’s such good medicine to get a win when you don’t really play that well.”
L&C were very active in this contest, with basically everyone in Trailblazer white and blue sprinting all over the floor. Stotler noted his team’s help defense in his postgame remarks, despite also saying that his team could have guarded the ball better.
The Trailblazers were often battling from behind in this one, as Shawnee’s athleticism proved troublesome, often stifling the L&C offense. The Trailblazers had a hard time converting many looks around the basket, which didn’t please the head ball coach.
“We missed so many baskets at the rim, they’re not easy shots, but you’re four feet away.” said Stotler postgame. “We make those, and probably win by five or six.”
The clutch victory comes as L&C hits the final stretch of their Region 24 schedule. Sitting at 13-9 with just six games remaining in the regular season, the Trailblazers will need a strong finish to get favorable seeding in their conference tournament.
The Trailblazer men are on the road this week, facing Southeastern Illinois on February 12 and the nationally ranked Olney on the 15th, before returning to the George C. Terry Riverbend Arena on February 19. For complete schedules and rosters for men’s basketball and all Trailblazer sports, visit: LC.edu/Athletics.