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Ness City to play for third

By KLINT SPILLER
kspiller@dailynews.net

MANHATTAN — It's tough to win when your opponent can't miss and your team can't make anything.

That was the story of Friday for the Ness City High School boys' basketball team (17-8) at the Class 2A state semifinals in Manhattan.

The Eagles fell to Belleville-Republic County 51-37. Republic County improved to 22-3.

Ness City made just 27.7 percent of its shots (13 of 47), including 3 of 23 from 3-point range, while Republic County finished with a 66.7 field goal percentage (18 of 27).

"We just shot the ball bad," said Ness City head coach Matt Overlease. "I don't know really how else to put it."

The bad-shooting night started in the first half and stretched through the third quarter. At one point, lasting from the second quarter to nine seconds into the fourth quarter, Ness City went 12 minutes without making a basket.

Ness City shot better in the fourth quarter, making 6 of 13, but it was way too late.

"They could have gave us a bigger rim," joked Ness City senior Colin Foos about how the Eagles could have performed better.

Foos led Ness City with 17 points and eight rebounds, but even he didn't have an efficient night, making 7 of 20.

"It was very frustrating," Foos said. "I don't know if there is anything more frustrating than not being able to hit shots. If you don't hit shots, you don't win."

Republic County had a much better night, especially in the first half. The Buffaloes nailed 14 of 17 shots in the first half, which included eight makes in a row from the end of the first quarter into late in the second.

Overlease said it wasn't like his players were sagging away on defense.

"Defensively, we didn't do too bad on them," Overlease said. "They hit some tough shots early. We couldn't buy a bucket, and in the third quarter, we had three or four just go in and out. We couldn't get a run going. We couldn't get anything put together."

Republic County senior guard Trenton Kuhlman and junior forward Trevor Allen finished with 17 points each. Kuhlman made 7 of 9, and Allen hit 4 of 8 shots and 9 of 9 from the free-throw line. Allen also grabbed a game-high nine rebounds.

Ness City will attempt to reverse its cold shooting Saturday in the third-place game.

The Eagles will face Moundridge (19-6) in the consolation finals.

"Like I told them, be upset with the loss but you can't let it carry into tomorrow," Overlease said. "There's a lot of people who didn't expect us to be here. I don't know if this team believed it could be here at one point, and we still have a chance to play third and fourth.

"We are one of four teams in the boys 2A division playing (Saturday)," he added. "These seniors get to play one more game, and it's going to come down to who wants it more."