Stew-Stras was involved in yet another barn-burning overtime last night, and came out on the short end at Neoga, 67-63.

The Comets won a double overtime game at home on December 13, 93-87, against now 24-3 Okaw Valley. The Comets lost a triple overtime just last Tuesday at Pana in what was the third highest scoring game in IHSA history, 129-121 and Cody Rincker scored a Stew-Stras record 48 points in the loss.

Last night it was another OT loss on the road, as the Comets took on a Neoga team that is on a mission this season. Neoga is 20-4 and 8-1 in the National Trail Conference, losing only to state-ranked Teutopolis. Stew-Stras is now 17-8 and 6-2 in the NTC.

Neoga held a slight lead after one, extended to a 9-point lead at the break, 30-21, then Stew-Stras started chipping away at that lead, cutting it to six by the end of the third and knotting the score by the end of regulation. But in the OT, once again, the home team had he advantage, as Neoga won the extra session 9-5, giving them a second place finish in the conference.

Cody Rincker came up big for the Comets scoring a game-high 26 points, one point better than Neoga’s Zach Braden. Cody Gallagher had 15 for the Comets and Jesse Brandt followed in double figures with eleven, while David Massengill was the only other Indian in double-digits, also scoring eleven.

Braden and Gallagher matched each other in the opening period, 7 for 7. Braden opened with a trey, then hit a pair of two’s, while Gallagher drained five straight free throw attempts and finished with a bucket.

Brandt and Eric Walk matched each other with solo trey’s, but Walk and Massengill each made a pair of free throws and Ray Zumbahlen scored a deuce for a 16-point first. Rincker rounded out the Stew-Stras scoring early with two two’s for 14 total Comet points.

Neoga stretched their lead in the second as they double-up Stew-Stras, holding the Comets to just seven points. Rincker had five of the seven with 3-of-4 foul shooting and a bucket. Brandt got the other basket. Neoga kept rolling, as Braden scored three times from the floor, Andrew Ewing twice, Zach Ballinger once and Alex Walk had a 2-for-2 trip to the line.

Trailing 30-21 at the break, the Comets started to chip away at the Indian lead, with the help of four treys in the third period. Rincker hit a two, then dialed in from long distance back-to-back. Ben Giertz launched a three and Jesse Brandt knocked down a triple. Brandt followed that with a two, Conrad Widdersheim had 1-of-2 free throws and a two and Jesse Williams got on the board with a bucket for a 21-point Comet third.

Neoga put up 18 points in the period, but saw the momentum starting to shift, despite Massengill scoring four times from inside the arc, Braden lighting it up twice from downtown and Ballinger hitting a pair of two’s.

With the deficit to just six, team Cody asserted itself. Cody Rincker scored three baskets and Cody Gallagher scored three baskets, Giertz rang it up once again from artillery range and Brandt made 1-of-2 at the stripe for 16 fourth quarter points. The Comets were also able to hold Neoga to a ten-spot and knot the game by the end of regulation.

The Indians could only manage four solo buckets and a solo free throw in crunch time. Zumbahlen hit a trey, Braden, Ewing and Eric Walk solo two’s. Alex Walk was 1-of-2 at the line and the game went to OT.

Luckily for the Indians, who didn’t show in the fourth quarter crunch time, they got some extra crunch. In the extra session, Zumbahlen scored twice from the floor and Braden knocked down 4-of-4 at the free throw line. Massengill was 1-of-2 at the stripe. The Comets were spent. Rincker hit a solo trey and Gallagher a solo two and that was it, game, set, match.

Stew-Stras (17-8, 6-2 NTC) plays at Altamont on Friday, while Neoga (20-4, 8-1 NTC) hosts Marshall. Stew-Stras opens regional play at Pana on Tuesday against Ramsey at 6 p.m., while Neoga plays the 6 p.m. game on Wednesday at the Pana Regional.

Stew-Stras 14-7-21-16-5—63

Neoga 16-14-18-10-9—67

Stew-Stras stats: Rincker 26 (7-2’s, 3-3 FG’s, 3/4 FT’s), Gallagher 15 (5 FG’s, 5/5 FT’s), Brandt 11 (2-2’s, 2-3 FG’s, 1/2 FT’s), Giertz 6 (2-3 FG’s), Widdersheim 3 (FG, 1/3 FT’s), Williams 2 (FG). Team free throws 10-of-14. 3-pointers: Rincker 3, Brandt 2, Giertz 2.

Neoga stats: Braden 25 (6-2’s, 3-3 FG’s, 4/5 FT’s), Massengill 11 (4 FG’s, 3/4 FT’s), Zumbahlen 9 (3-2’s, 1-3 FG’s), E. Walk 7 (1-2, 1-3 FG’s, 2/2 FT’s), Ewing 6 (3 FG’s), Ballinger 6 (3 FG’s), A. Walk 3 (3/4 FT’s). Team free throws 12-of-15. 3-pointers: Braden 3, E. Walk 1, Zumbahlen 1.

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