JOHN CURTIS - Daily Union Sports Editor
SHELBYVILLE, IL. — Neoga was ranked the #2 seed and Dieterich the #5 seed in the NTC Basketball Tournament. But, the two teams were a lot closer than that as they played to a 1-point win for Dieterich in the 3rd place game of the NTC tourney on Saturday, 37-36.
Neoga carried a 9-6 lead into the 2nd period and a 16-12 lead into the half. Dieterich's leading scorer Candace Niemerg was held to just two points in the 1st half. But a 9-4 run by Dieterich in the 3rd gave the Maroons the lead.
When the 4th period started, Dieterich was up, 21-20. After the two teams scoring only 41 points in three periods, they scored 32 oin the final quarter.
Sydney Higgs scored a two in transition, 23-20 Maroons. Niemerg dished to Mallorie Vahling for two and it was a 5-point Dieterich lead. Vahling returned the favor and Niemerg made it a 7-point lead with 5:00 left, 27-20.
Neoga hit a baseline jumper. Higgs scored on a put back and Neoga made another jumper. Niemerg -28 blocked a shot and then scored at the other end on a nifty inside move and lefty two with 2:42 remaining, 31-24.
Niemerg fouled Jillian Deters and she buried the free throws, 31-26. But Niemerg broke the Neoga press and scored again, 33-26.
Deters was fouled again and sank the foul shots. Niemerg scored agin inside, 35-28, and Neoga missed a trey. Katilyn Meinhart made one free throw and Dieterich looked to have it won, up 36-28 with 1:18 to play. Not so quick.
Deters made two more free throws with 55.8 seconds left, 36-30. Neoga's press got the ball back and Deters nailed a 3-pointer with 32 second left, 36-33.
Higgs was fouled and made 1-of-2 crucial free throws, 37-33. With 14 seconds left Olivia Ott nailed a 3-pointer to make it a 1-point game, 37-36.
Niemerg was fouled and had a chance to ice the game, but missed both free throws. With 9.1 seconds left Neoga took it the length of the floor. The first two options were covered, so the ball went to the corner for a final 3-point shot with ledthan two seconds left.
Niemrg rotated out and made up for her two missed free throws with a game-saving shot block. Niemerg scored 8 of her game-high 16 points in the 4th period. Deters scored nine of her team-high 14 points in the 4th quarter.
Saturday NTC Tourney
3rd Place Game
Dieterich 37, Neoga 36
Dieterich stats: Niemerg 16 (8 FGs, 0/2 FTs), Higgs 7 (3 FGs, 1/2 FTs), Courtney Flach 6 (3 FGs, 0/1 FTs), Vahling 5 (2 FGs, 1/4 FTs), Taylor Wright 2 (FG), Meinhart 1 (1/2 FTs). Team FGs 17. Team FTs 3-of-11.
Neoga stats: J. Deters 14 (2-3 pt FGs, 8/10 FTs), Madison Butler 9 (3-2s, 1-3 pt FGs0, Ott 8 (1-2, 1-3 pt FGs, 3/6 FTs), E.C. Thies 5 (1-3 pt FG, 2/2 FTs). Team FGs 9. 3-pointers: 5 (Deters 2, Butler, Thies, Ott). Team FTs 13-of-18.