Fatima falls in third-place game
Friday, March 8, 2013
COLUMBIA, Mo. — You’re not going to beat many people shooting 27 percent.
You’re definitely not going to beat a team in the Final Four doing that.
The Fatima Comets struggled to find their shooting touch in Friday’s Class 3 third-place game, dropping a 74-47 decision to Lutheran North at Mizzou Arena.
Fatima coach Ryan Robertson did his best to find a silver lining after the loss.
“It’s still better than when we played Helias here last year (in the MFA Oil/Break Time Shootout) — I think we shot 18 percent then,” he said.
Robertson added a lot of Friday’s 13-of-48 shooting effort was directly due to the defense of Lutheran North.
“You can say it was our shots, but they close out so fast,” he said. “Shots that are normally open are now closed off. Passes that usually get through do not, so that’s just athleticism.”
The Crusaders showed that athleticism in the game’s first two minutes, as they jumped out to an 8-0 lead before many fans had settled into their seats.
Lutheran North (20-12) hit its first two shots, followed that up with a possession where they got four offensive rebounds before converting their fifth shot, then made two more shots in succession.
Fatima, meanwhile, missed its first three shots, all of them good looks at the basket.
“That (8-0 start) was huge,” Robertson said. “If we would have gotten a couple defensive rebounds to start, or kept them out of the lane a little better and it was 4-4 or 6-4, we can get in our stuff more. I think we rushed after that and played a little scared.”
The Comets finally got their first field goal when Patrick Schnieders drilled a 3-pointer with 5:43 left in the quarter. But the Crusaders’ lead eventually hit 20-7 before another 3 by Schnieders sent the Comets into the second quarter down 20-10.
“We felt great about (the first quarter),” said Lutheran North’s Anthony Virdure, who led all scorers with 25 points. “We didn’t know how we were going to come out. After a loss, you don’t know how you’re going to feel. ... But when we got out to that lead, we were feeling good about ourselves.”
The Comets made what amounted to their last stand in the second quarter. They went on a 5-1 run to start the period, capped by a 3 from Tom Zeilman, and then after a Lutheran North free throw, a layup by Chad Stegeman cut the deficit to 22-17 with 5:24 left before halftime.
But the Crusaders responded with a 7-0 run to get the momentum back, and their lead was 32-22 at halftime.
There was still cause for optimism in the Fatima locker room at that point.
“When you’ve got seniors like this, any time we can be at 10 until the middle of the fourth (quarter), we feel like we’re in a position to win,” Robertson said. “Even at that 10 mark at halftime, I was happy because they were killing us on the boards and we hadn’t played well. So I thought, ‘This is very doable.’
“But (Lutheran North’s) spurtability, or whatever you want to call it, they can put it up in such a hurry. You look up and you’re down six, then it’s 15 in a minute. It’s the athleticism you’re just not used to.”
That’s what happened in the third quarter, where Lutheran North outscored Fatima 16-4 to effectively end it.
The Comets had more turnovers (seven) than shot attempts (six) in the quarter, and they made just one of those six shots.
“The third quarter was a big quarter for us,” Lutheran North coach Anthony Hall said. “... We sped them up and guarded them really well and guarded the 3-point line pretty well. ... They’re a really good shooting team, they’ve got four guys who average double figures. But we did a pretty good job of limiting them.”
Schnieders said the Crusaders’ quickness was so much greater than almost any team on the Comets’ schedule.
“It was the first time we’d seen that pretty well all year besides Hickman,” he said. “It’s hard to get in sets, it’s hard to get shots off.”
Lutheran North’s advantage was 48-26 heading to the fourth, and it eventually swelled to 69-42 in the final frame.
Not only did the Crusaders shoot 51 percent to Fatima’s 27 percent, but Lutheran North had a massive 47-25 edge in rebounding.
“I felt our heart was in it, the effort was there, but you get 50-50 loose balls and normally our guys get a lot of them or those loose-ball rebounds,” Robertson said. “That team’s just so athletic, all the 50-50 plays went their way. And rebounds, I thought we were in the right position a lot of times, but they’re just so athletic they were jumping over us.”
Schnieders led the Comets with 16 points and Tanner Gentges had the best overall game of anyone in a Fatima uniform, racking up 14 points, a team-high seven rebounds, one block, one steal and one assist.
Those two are part of a five-man senior class that also includes Stegeman, Nolan Bax and Kellan Cavender. That group helped the Comets go 28-3 and get back to the Final Four for the first time since 1996.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Stegeman said.
Robertson said he’s sad to see the season come to a close.
“I told them in the locker room it’s just been a honor to be on the ride with these guys,” he said. “... There’s never a parent phone call, never a whiny kid on the end of the bench. They all worked, they all accepted their roles, that’s what made it enjoyable.
“... Just fun kids with good personalities. ... That’s what makes it fun. This team had a lot of character, and a lot of characters, I guess you would say.”