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No. 3 Riverside sinks Lutheran High in battle of unbeatens

December 19, 2018

On a night in which Riverside’s 3-point shooting uncharacteristically couldn’t get going, a force down low was just enough for the Chargers to stay undefeated.

Joseph Bloom, a 6-foot-7 senior, poured in a game-high 23 points, and Tredyn Prososki added a driving layup and a free throw with 9.1 seconds left to help Riverside — located in Cedar Rapids — hold off Lutheran High Northeast 49-47 on Tuesday night.

The Eagles — rated sixth in Class C2 by the Omaha World-Herald — still had a chance in the waning moments in the battle of undefeated teams at the Clayton and Vivian Andrews Activity Center. But a jumper from the high post by Tanner Koss hit the front of the rim and bounced away as the buzzer sounded.

“We needed a close game like that,” said Riverside coach Joe Imus, a native of Albion. “That’s probably the worst performance that we’ve had, but Lutheran High is an athletic team, and they exposed us. We’re not as athletic as them.”

It capped a contest in which neither team could get momentum, as the largest lead was seven points. Lutheran High led just twice — for a 36-second stretch of the second quarter and 1:21 of the fourth quarter — but did just enough to stay in striking distance the entire night.

It left coach Darin Suckstorf and the Eagles wondering what might have been.

“We talked about turnovers and rebounds and we always want to fight for those loose balls. That’s what we preach a lot in practice and we drill a lot in practice,” Suckstorf said. “It really came down to one of those plays tonight. We just needed to get one more loose ball, one more rebound, make one more shot, one less turnover, and who knows what happens.”

Ben Gebhardt and Jaxson Kant both scored 16 points to lead the Eagles, while Gebhardt posted game-highs of nine rebounds and three assists, while Kant nabbed seven rebounds. Brady Jackson joined them in double figures with 11 points, including a game-tying drive with 5:24 left.

As the game wound down, Gebhardt gave Lutheran High a 45-44 lead when he hit 1 of 2 free throws. But from there, the Eagles went cold as they finished 19 of 49 (38.8 percent), including just 2 of 11 from the 3-point arc.

Trent Carraher found Bloom open down low to give the Chargers — rated No. 3 in Class D2 — the lead back, and both teams combined for five points in the final 3½ minutes.

In addition to Bloom’s big night, the junior Prososki — already in the top 30 all-time with 210 3-pointers his first two years of high school — finished with 11 points on 4 of 15 shooting. As a team, the Chargers connected on 18 of 44 (40.9 percent) from the field, including 6 of 21 from 3-point range.

“He did a good job there in the second half, and a lot of it was us getting the ball to him and him being physical with it,” Imus said. “That was the emphasis at halftime that we needed to be looking at him. He was open; we just weren’t looking at him. He stepped up and had a good offensive game.”

Kant was called for a charge as his shot rolled through the net on the next possession, and Koss was whistled when he and Trey Carraher both went after a loose ball, but Carraher missed the front end of a one-and-one.

Prososki ended the drought with a driving layup with 1:09 left to put Riverside up three, and Jackson found Gebhardt open for an easy two with 50 seconds left to cut the gap to 48-47.

From there, Riverside was able to drain the clock until Prososki was fouled with 9.1 seconds left. He made it a two-point game but missed the second free throw to set up the final attempt by Koss from the left side of the lane.

“We went with a zone press to see if they’d get a tip or make a pass that we could get, and we couldn’t get a foul fast enough. We wanted to get a foul with about 15 seconds left,” Suckstorf said. “The last play is very similar to what we wanted. We got a high-post look, and they left the shot short.”

Riverside 16 12 11 10 — 49

Lutheran High 16 9 10 12 — 47

RIVERSIDE (6-0): Tredyn Prososki 4-15 1-2 11; Michael Bernt 1-5 0-0 3; Trey Carraher 0-1 0-1 0; Joseph Bloom 9-12 5-6 23; Trent Carraher 2-7 1-1 6; Keaton Carraher 1-3 0-0 3; Charlie Keehn 1-1 0-0 3. Totals: 18-44 7-10 49.

LUTHERAN HIGH NORTHEAST (6-1): Logan Nitz 0-2 0-0 0; Brady Jackson 5-8 1-2 11; Connor Wilcox 0-1 0-0 0; Ben Gebhardt 6-13 4-5 16; Tanner Koss 2-10 0-2 4; Jaxson Kant 6-14 2-2 16; Kalvin Watts 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 19-49 7-11 47.

3-point field goals: RIV 6-21 (Prososki 2-10, Keehn 1-1, K. Carraher 1-2, Trent Carraher 1-4, Bernt 1-4); LH 2-11 (Kant 2-5). Rebounds: RIV 20 (Bloom 6); LH 21 (Gebhardt 9, Kant 7). Assists: RIV 10; LH 12 (Gebhardt 3). Steals: RIV 7; LH 9 (Koss 3). Blocked shots: RIV 0; LH 3 (Gebhardt, Koss, Kant).

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