By Will Johnson
SAN ANTONIO – It hit everything but the bottom of the net. With the score tied at 49 with – 2.8 seconds showing on the scoreboard – the Grapeland Sandies inbounded the basketball on their own end of the court. Parker Wilson took the pass, managed to shake free in the lane and put up a shot.
The ball kissed the backboard, touched every part of the rim and looked to be going in before falling harmlessly into the hands of a waiting Muenster Hornet as time expired to send the game into overtime.
The Sandies had not shot particularly well in regulation but in OT, the Grapeland shooting percentage went into a deep freeze as they shot one of eight from the field and zero of four from behind the three point line.
The Hornets didn’t shoot particularly well in OT, either. They only connected on one of three from the field but the difference was at the free throw line. Muenster connected on five of 10 while Grapeland only made one of two in the extra period. Nevertheless, it was just enough for the Hornets to hold off the Sandies and advance with the 56-52 win.
It was a different story as the game began, however. The Sandies came out of the locker room on fire as Riley Chipman knocked down a 3-pointer with only nine seconds gone in the first period. He followed that up with a layup and then made one of two from the charity stripe.
After Tink McQuirter knocked down a three, Chipman added to his early marksmanship with two foul shots and a second layup as the Sandies opened up a 13-4 lead. Parker Wilson got in on the action as he drained a mid-range jumper and Chipman capped off the quarter with a put back to give the Sandies a 17-11 lead after the first eight minutes of play.
Chipman scored 12 of the Grapeland 17 points in the quarter while McQuirter had three and Wilson had two.
The Hornets were led by Blake Hoepfner with seven as both Logan Cook and Clay Stevens had two.
While the Sandies shot 67 percent (six of nine shots) from the field and 40 percent (two of five) from three point land, they cooled off somewhat in the second quarter. After a layup by McQuirter made the sc
ore 19-13, the Hornets rattled off five unanswered points to cut the Grapeland lead to one.
Hoepfner opened the quarter with a two point basket and then stepped outside to drain a 3-pointer. Cal York dropped in two but then the Sandies went on an 8-0 run to push the score out to 27-19.
McQuirter hit his second three of the game, made a layup and then turned the show over to Chipman who netted another three.
Down by eight, Muenster sandwiched Chipman’s third three of the half between a pair of treys from Stevens and Hoepfner to close out the half with the Sandies ahead by a score of 30-25.
Grapeland was led in the second by McQuirter with seven and Chipman with six. Muenster saw Hoepfner put in nine while Stevens had three and York added two.
After the break, the Hornets began to chip away at the Sandie lead. Hoepfner got things going for Muenster with a three, but Grapeland responded to push their lead back out to six with 5:12 left in the third.
A pair of free throws and a 3-pointer from Hoepfner cut the lead to one but a short jumper from McQuirter closed out the period with Grapeland still up, 39-36.
Hoepfner had eight for the Hornets while Cook had three in the third period. The Sandies got four from McQuirter, three from Wilson and two from Chipman.
The fourth quarter was like a prize fight as both teams stood in the middle of the ring and slugged it out.
Back-to-back baskets from John Weger gave the Hornets their first lead of the game since the 7:09 mark of the first quarter.
A two from Chipman put the Sandies back ahead, 41-40, but a three from Stevens sent Muenster on a 7-1 run. A free throw from Rick Frauenberger, a two from Tyrin Wiley and a layup from Wilson followed by a shot from the foul line and the score was tied up at 47 with 1:36 remaining in regulation.
After Hoepfner made one of two from the charity stripe, Chipman slipped through the defense for a layup to put Grapeland back up 49-48 with 35 seconds remaining. A late free throw by Hoepfner tied the game at 49 and set the stage for Wilson’s shot as time expired.
With two of the Muenster starters in foul trouble and a third who had fouled out, Grapeland appeared to be in good shape as the teams began OT.
The Hornets opened up a three point lead with 2:31 left, but Wilson cut it to one with a driving layup to make the score 52-51. Unfortunately, that was as close as the Sandies would get as Muenster went to the line seven times in the last 1:03 and held on to win by a final score of 56-52.
The Hornets were led by Blake Hoepfner with 27 points and John Weger with 11. Logan Cook and Clay Stevens both scored eight while Cal York had two to round out the Muenster point production.
Muenster shot 35.8 percent from the field on 19 of 53 shooting. They made six of 16 3-point attempts and converted 12 of 24 free throws. As a team they grabbed 40 rebounds.
The Sandies were led in scoring by Riley Chipman with 24 points and Tink McQuirter with 15. Parker Wilson had 10, Tyrin Wiley had two
and Rick Frauenberger chipped in one.
Grapeland shot 38.5 percent from the field on 20 of 52 shooting. They made six of 22 3-point attempts and converted 6 of 15 free throws. As a team they grabbed 34 rebounds.
While it is certainly not the way the Sandies wanted to end their season, they should be congratulated for making it to the State Tournament in San Antonio. From all of us at The Messenger we would like to say thank you and congratulations on a great year.
Will Johnson may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.