Ness City fally falls short in third-place game
By KLINT SPILLER
MANHATTAN -- The Ness City boys' basketball team hoped to bring home hardware in back-to-back seasons after winning the state title in football. That hope disappeared as senior Dalton Gantz's last-second, game-tying 3-point attempt bounced off the rim.
The Eagles overcame a 13-point, third-quarter deficit to reclaim the lead, but faded down the stretch to lose 71-68 to Moundridge on Saturday afternoon in the Class 2A state tournament at Bramlage Coliseum in Manhattan.
Moundridge improved to 20-6.
"We definitely didn't want to come out here and get a fourth-place finish after pulling off an upset in the first round," Gantz said. "We fought as hard as we could, but the ball didn't bounce our way tonight."
Ness City (17-9) entered the tournament on a late-season run, upsetting every team it faced. In sub-state, No. 5 seed Ness City knocked off No. 4 seed Hill City (14-8), No. 1 seed Mankato-Rock Hills (18-3) and No. 2 seed Oakley (17-6). Then at state, the Eagles defeated No. 2 seed Lyndon (22-2).
However, the Eagles ended their season with two straight losses to Belleville-Republic County and Moundridge.
"Obviously, we are disappointed with the way we ended the season, but to get where we are and to have a chance to play on championship Saturday says a lot for these guys," said Ness City head coach Matt Overlease.
Ness City got a heroic performance from its top player, senior forward Colin Foos, who finished with a game-high 33 points on 14-of-24 shooting, but even that wasn't enough to overcome Moundridge.
"Colin is a heck of a player. In my opinion, he is one of the best in the state, and he'll go on to play college ball next year," Gantz said. "We were lucky to have him. He is a great kid. He led us all the way to the state tournament."
Ness City had a chance to tie it late. Gantz said the Eagles intended to run it to Foos, but he was tightly guarded.
"My guy happened to be sagging off of me, so the ball ended up in my hands," Gantz said. "It actually got tipped as it left my hands, and it ended up a little short."
Moundridge shot 51.1 percent from the field and got big performances from its starters.
Wildcat senior guard Daniel Ratzlaff finished with 22 points on 7-of-17 shooting.
Seniors Ryan Lorimer and Tyler Kaufman each contributed 13 points, and sophomore Colton Frazier scored 11. Junior Hunter Enyart added eight points.
Foos led Ness City andGantz and senior guard Garrett Flax added 12 and 10 points, respectively.
It was a back-and-forth game early. The lead changed nine times in the first quarter, but in the second, Ratzlaff managed to create some separation.
Ratzlaff scored 11 points in the second quarter on 4-of-6 shooting and helped give his team a 41-33 halftime lead.
Moundridge carried its momentum in to the third quarter and built its lead to as much as 13 with 2:45 to go.
But then Ness City battled back, going on a 16-2 run that stretched from the end of the third to the 5:38 mark of the fourth.
The Eagles led 67-63 with 2:30 to go --thanks to back-to-back steals by Ness City senior guard Matthew Frank.
"That's this senior group," Overlease said. "They've been like that forever. They just don't quit."
However, Moundridge got hot in the final two minutes to seal the victory, going on an 8-1 run.
"It was a dogfight all night, but props to Moundridge, they made big plays when they had to," Overlease said. "We just came a little short."