Alter basketball coach Eric Coulter’s message was simple. The Knights’ execution of it wasn’t.
“The last thing I said at the timeout was ‘Guys we have to defend the 3 and we have to get the rebound,’” Coulter said. “Maybe I’ll use reverse psychology on them next time and just tell them to give up the board.”
Alter didn’t survive one or two Badin 3-point attempts in the final 20 seconds to force overtime, the Knights survived three to hang on for a 45-42 Greater Catholic League Co-Ed win in a meeting of league leaders inside packed Joe Petrocelli Gymnasium.
Ranked No. 10 in the initial Associated Press Division II state poll this week, the Knights improve to 9-1 overall and 5-1 in the GCL. Alter has won nine straight since a 61-59 season-opening loss at McNicholas. The Rockets (10-2, 5-1) are tied with the Knights atop the GCL following their 64-47 win over Carroll.
Badin (9-3) is a game back at 4-2.
Trailing by three coming out of a timeout with 28 seconds left, Badin’s Spencer Giesting, Andrew Larkin and Zach Switzer all had solid looks from long distance that just missed. Alter could not corral the decisive rebound.
“They got three 3s and three rebounds and we just couldn’t come up with the board at the end,” Alter senior Brady Uhl said. “We got a little lucky there that they didn’t force overtime.”
Said Badin coach Gerry Weisgerber: “Three good looks at the end to tie it up. That’s all I could ask for.”
Alter threatened to blow it open early.
Down 14-2 in the first and 17-8 early in the second, the Rams used a 9-0 run to force the game’s only tie. A 3-pointer by Alter sophomore Jacob Conner gave the Knights the lead for good 20-17.
Alter, which hit six first-half 3s and led 28-23 at the break, built a seven-point lead four times in the second half, but couldn’t shake Badin.
“I knew that was the way it was going to be,” Coulter said. “That’s not the type of team to lay down. I knew this game was going to come down to one or two possessions.”
“We got down the first four minutes and from that point on we found our rhythm and got back in control,” Weisgerber said. “We just couldn’t ever get that shot to tie or go ahead to go down.”
Uhl led all scorers with 13 points, while Rich Kolb and Jack Smith each added nine.
Giesting led Badin with 10 points. Switzer and Hegemann added eight apiece.
Getting the win at home was especially important for Alter, which faces seven of its next eight opponents on the road. The Knights only home game during the span is a rematch with McNicholas.
Badin’s trip to Alter was the first of five straight GCL road games for the Rams.
The two meet again (at Badin) in the GCL finale on Valentine’s Day.
“We needed this one,” Coulter said. “There’s no question.”
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