Concordia senior Sam Huebner scored in the final seconds to lift the Bulldogs to an exciting 75-73 men’s basketball win over York College on Thursday evening in Seward. It was the opening game of the Cattle Classic Tournament. Concordia improved to 2-1 on the year with the win. York College slipped to 2-3 on the year with the loss.
Concordia led for a good portion of the first half. The Bulldogs led by as many 17 on two occasions and took a 45-28 lead into halftime. Concordia was 21-of-43 (48.3 percent) from the field in the opening half. The Bulldogs were 6-of-13 (48.3 percent) from behind the three point line and a perfect 11-of-11 at the foul line in the first 20 minutes. The Bulldogs also limited the visiting Panthers to just 9-of-27 (33.3 percent) shooting in the opening half of play.
The Bulldogs maintained a double-digit lead throughout much of the second half, but York College went on a run down the stretch. The Panthers used pressure defense to cause several Concordia turnovers, and York turned those turnovers into easy points. Layups by Dee Ellison and Thaddeus Varmall pulled the Panthers within three at 73-70 with 1:20 remaining in regulation.
Another Bulldog turnover led to a basket by Corey Standerfer, and York College trailed by just one (73-72) with just over a minute to play in the game. Following a Concordia miss, York College had a shot to tie or take the lead. Sanderfer drew a foul and went to the line for two shots with just eight seconds remaining. He went 1-of-2 at the charity stripe to tie the score at 73-73.
Concordia was forced to go the length of the court, but Tyler Byrd (Bennington, Neb.) weaved his way through the York College press. Byrd found Huebner (Aurora, Colo.) with a lob pass, and Huebner kissed it off the glass for the game-winner just before time expired.
“We invested a lot of time in preparing for York College, so this would’ve been a real tough loss for us in our home opening game,” said Grant Schmidt, head coach of the Bulldogs. “This win establishes us mentally, because we found a way to win despite making a lot of mistakes.”
The Bulldogs turned the ball over 22 times in the game with many of those coming down the stretch in the second half. Concordia held a commanding 39-26 rebounding advantage in the win.
“Our rebounding was dominant, especially in the first half,” noted Schmidt. “That allowed us to stick to our game plan in the first half. Obviously, it got away from us some in the second half. But I was very pleased with our rebounding tonight.”
Concordia finished 21-of-43 (48.8 percent) from the field in the game. The Bulldogs were 6-of-17 (35.3 percent) from deep and 27-of-32 (84.4 percent) from the foul line in the win.
Ryan Shrum (Allen, Texas) scored 18 points to lead the way offensively for the Bulldogs. The senior went 4-of-8 from three point land and was a perfect 4-of-4 at the foul line on the night. Brent Houchin (Bruning, Neb.) added 17 points and six boards off the bench, while Porter Birtell (Madison, Neb.) chipped in with 12 points and six rebounds. Byrd had a nice all-around game for the Bulldogs. Byrd totaled eight points, eight rebounds and seven assists in the Concordia win.
Corey Standerfer scored a game-high 27 points for the Panthers. Standerfer was 7-of-11 from the floor, 2-of-4 from deep and 11-of-13 at the foul line. Varmall added 15 points for York College.
Play in the Cattle Classic Tournament continues on Friday. The Concordia men are off until Saturday when they take on Bethel College. Coach Schmidt is excited to build on Thursday’s exciting win.
“We really need to concentrate on putting together a solid 40 minutes,” remarked Schmidt. “Our defense was pretty solid overall tonight. I thought our offensive mistakes really hurt our defense at times. This was a good win tonight against a very athletic team, and we’re looking forward to Saturday.”