Schnieders leads Fatima to win against Hartville

ROLLA — The way things were going Wednesday night, you wished the gym at Missouri S&T had a secondary scoreboard.

That’s because Fatima’s Patrick Schnieders was putting up points at such an alarming rate, it warranted constant monitoring.

In fact, when Schnieders splashed home a 3-pointer with 1:39 left in the Class 3 sectional contest, a different scoreboard would have read: Hartville 44, Schnieders 35.

The senior sharpshooter exited not long after, but not before he had spearheaded Fatima’s 62-46 win over Hartville.

As a result, the Comets find themselves one of eight teams left standing in the state. Fatima (27-1) advances to play Strafford (24-4) at 6 p.m. Saturday at Drury University in Springfield.

Schnieders connected on 14-of-26 shots — including his 3-of-3 for eight points during a 10-0 run to open the game that gave the Comets a lead they would never relinquish.

“That’s his role — he’s got to score it for us to be good, and he knows that,” Fatima coach Ryan Robertson said. “He takes shots that some people think are questionable, but we don’t. He’s got to score the ball for us to win.

“He’s just a phenomenal player, a phenomenal shooter. He’s a gamer: The biggest stage of his life and he gets 35.”

During that game-deciding run that lasted 2:05 of game time, Hartville turned it over on its first four possessions. Fatima, meanwhile, got layups from Schnieders and Chad Stegeman, followed by back-to-back 3s by Schnieders.

“We usually do that because we come out with major intensity every game,” Schnieders said. “We try to take off from the beginning and keep going.”

While the offense was humming, Schnieders added he was happier with his team’s defense.

“It was very big,” he said about the start. “We turn them over, score, get a stop and score again and it puts them down right off the bat. That’s what won it.”

Once the Eagles found their footing, they were able to put together an 8-2 run to get back into it. But in what would become a trend, the Comets got a lift thanks to a buzzer-beating layup from Schnieders that made it 17-11 after one quarter.

The teams played to a virtual standstill in the second quarter, with Fatima holding a 15-14 scoring edge. Schnieders stepped up again in the waning moments, drilling a jumper as time expired to send Fatima to the locker room up 32-25.

“It gave our team a little momentum each time,” Schnieders said of his two buzzer-beaters. “The only reason I got them was because of the team hustling.”

The Eagles, who had cut the lead to two during the second quarter, never got closer than four after halftime. The first time they did it, Jared Schulte got a big layup for the Comets to right the ship, and the second time they did, Stegeman came up with a layup.

The Comets took a 46-39 lead into the final quarter, and Robertson said he wasn’t able to breathe easy to that point.

“With a team that’s quick like (Hartville), speed kills,” he said. “You thought at any time they were capable of a 15-0 run. They’ve got shooters, they’re able to apply so much pressure that they can turn you over at times. They do a great job, you can’t get in any of your sets. We didn’t execute very well, but a lot had to do with their ball pressure.”

But it was Fatima’s defense that rose to the occasion in the fourth. The Comets held the Eagles scoreless on nine of their first 10 possessions, building the lead to 57-41.

That took the drama out of things and the Comets eventually took an 18-point lead before settling for the 16-point win.

Stegeman chipped in with 10 points for the Comets and also tied for the game high with nine rebounds.

The Comets held a slim 33-28 rebounding edge in the game, but got 12 of those boards on the offensive end to give themselves plenty of opportunities to score. And no one was bigger on that end than 6-foot guard Tom Zeilman, who got five of his six rebounds on the offensive end.

“He has just five points, but was our MVP without a doubt,” Robertson said. “Him, his brother, his whole family, they’re just workers. They were all that way. Tom’s ability to get every loose ball, every big rebound, you put that around our talent and that’s what helps.”

Shade Piper was the only Eagle to reach double figures, as he led them with 19 points. Robert Johnson grabbed nine rebounds for Hartville (23-5).

Robertson said the Comets are ecstatic to be one of just eight teams left in Class 3.

“To not play one of our greatest games of the year and still sneak one out, I think we can use that as motivation going forward,” he said. “If things aren’t going our way, you’ve got to dig down and get stops and get rebounds. We’ll learn from it and hopefully use it in the next round.”

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