On paper last Thursday night’s Six Rivers West boys’ basketball game between winless Belmont and league-leading Potosi looked to be a significant mismatch.
But as the old adage goes, basketball games are not played on paper.
The winless Braves hung tough all night, and rallied to within five points entering the final five minutes. But the visiting Chieftains put the game away with a few key baskets and some clutch free throw shooting, en route to a closer-than-the-score-indicated, 62-48, victory.
Potosi converted 9-of-10 from the line in the fourth quarter and 16-of-17 (94.1 percent) for the game, compared to just 7-of-16 (43.8 %) for Belmont.
The Chieftains improved to 9-2 overall and a league-best 5-1 in Six Rivers West play. Meanwhile the struggling Braves fell to 0-15 overall, 0-6 in the SRW.
“I thought our kids played their most complete game (of the year),” said Belmont head coach Jeff Hodgson. “They played good defense and they were patient most of the night not allowing Potosi to get running. We also hit some shots and played extremely hard, however the game was won at the free throw line.”
Potosi coach Mike Uppena agreed, “The big key was definitely the difference in free throw shooting.”
Junior Hunter Leibfried converted a pair of free throws with 1:10 left in the third quarter to give the Chieftains a 10-point lead at 40-30.
Belmont junior Avery Wilborn scored on a nice drive on the ensuing possession and Brandon Wedig’s old-fashioned three-point play with 9.9 seconds remaining in the quarter pulled the Braves within five at 40-35 entering the final eight minutes.
But Belmont missed its first five shots to start the fourth quarter, went 0-for-4 from the free throw line during that stretch and Potosi scored 10 straight points to take a commanding 50-36 lead with 5:13 left to play.
Junior guard Jase Udelhofen opened the final period by converting a driving layup while being fouled and made the free throw to complete the three-point play.
After Belmont sophomore Justin Nodorft missed a pair of free throws, Udelhofen got open on a back cut to the basket and junior Spencer Hawes set up Udelhofen for another layup. Udelhofen finished the game with five points all coming in Potosi’s key 10-0 run to start the fourth quarter.
Belmont’s Issac Haag missed two from the line, followed by Leibfried making two for Potosi.
After another Belmont miss from the field, Hawes buried a 3-pointer from the right wing off an assist from Udelhofen.
“I’m starting to see improvements in some areas where the kids are getting their teammates more involved,” added Coach Uppena. “If you get an assist, you played a part in scoring those points.”
Belmont pulled within 50-39 on an Avery Wilborn 3-pointer with 3:33 remaining, but Tom Keene made a 2-of-2 from the line, as did Hawes on Potosi’s next possession.
Hawes put the final nail in Belmont’s coffin with back-to-back steals and breakaway steals.
Potosi shot 48.8 percent (21-of-43) from the field, including 4-of-9 from 3-point land, and committed just seven turnovers.
Leibfried scored a game-high 19 points, grabbed eight rebounds and had five assists. Hawes also played a stellar all-around game with 17 points, six assists, five rebounds and four steals. Fellow junior Mitch Langkamp added 11 points for the victors.
Wilborn scored a team-high 17 points to go along with six rebounds and four assists to lead the Braves.
Wedig scored 13 points, and junior forward Jeremy Richardson added nine points and six rebounds in defeat.
Potosi, was scheduled to host Cassville (9-4, 4-2 SRW) this past Tuesday, and will now host Six Rivers East-leading Barneveld (12-1) Friday night in the Six Rivers Challenge. On Saturday the Chieftains will face Galena in the Wendy’s American Trust High School Basketball Classic at Loras College in Dubuque.
Belmont, which traveled to Shullsburg on Tuesday, will host Argyle (3-10) in Friday’s Six Rivers Challenge.
Potosi 62, Belmont 48
(from Thursday, Jan. 19 @ Belmont)
Potosi 9 18 13 22 - 61
Belmont 11 5 19 13 - 62
Potosi (9-2, 5-1) - Jase Udelhofen 5, Logan Udelhofen 2, Hunter Leibfried 19, Tom Keene 4, Mitch Langkamp 11, Spencer Hawes 17, T.J. Neuhaus 2, Tim Fritz 2. Totals - 21 16-17 62.
Belmont (0-15, 0-6) - Justin Nodorft 5, Avery Wilborn 17, Jeremy Richardson 9, Branton Wedig 13, Isaac Haag 4. Totals - 19 7-16 48.
3 point goals - P: 4 (Leibfried 2, Langkamp, Hawes); B: 3 (Wilborn 3). Team fouls - P: 20; B: 17. Fouled out - none.