MINSTER — New Bremen had racked up 13 wins before a Midwest Athletic Conference game at rival Minster on Thursday. But the Cardinals had faltered against the other two state-ranked opponents they’d faced. They lost by 29 points to Versailles on Dec. 14 and by 16 points to Fort Recovery on Jan. 11.
Minster, the No. 1 ranked team in Division IV, couldn’t replicate the success of Versailles and Fort Recovery. But the Wildcats managed to overcome deficits twice in the second half and held on to beat New Bremen 47-44 and stay unbeaten in MAC play.
Minster scored the first 15 points of the third quarter to take a 10-point lead, but New Bremen responded with a 10-0 run. From there, the teams traded baskets until Ivy Wolf and Alli Fischer made three consecutive buckets late to put Minster ahead for good.
“We went from down five to up 10, and at that point in time, the game changed,” Minster coach Mike Wiss said. “The level of physicality on the floor changed. We started getting shoved around. We got pushed under the bucket on (New Bremen’s) end of the floor quite a bit. And it was going to be a war.
“… New Bremen is a bunch of fighters. It’s a physical, emotional game.”
The physicality resulted in some fouls being called (though there was a good amount contact with no fouls called).
New Bremen capitalized on the free-throw line by making 12-of-16 foul shots. Minster, though, made 5-of-12 foul shots before Demaris Wolf made two with five seconds left to put Minster ahead by three points. Ivy Wolf had missed a pair of one-and-one opportunities in the previous 30 seconds.
“Sometimes when you miss one or two — and Ivy’s a good free-throw shooter — but sometimes that rim starts to get a little smaller to a shooter’s eyes,” Wiss said. “It’s mindset. Demaris came up there, didn’t touch rim. Very happy for Demaris.”
New Bremen coach Chris Burden said he was pleased with the team’s effort, especially after last Thursday’s 36-20 loss to Fort Recovery.
“If you would have talked to me one week ago and asked if we could come into Minster and get a win, I’d think you were crazy,” Burden said. “We’ve grown so much mentally and as a team and as individuals this past week. I’m very proud of them, the way we came out and played. It was two heavyweights going at it, punch-for-punch. They made plays down at the end.”
The Cardinals led by five points at halftime, but Minster scored a flurry of baskets at the beginning of the third to take a 34-24 lead.
Demaris Wolf opened the quarter with back-to-back baskets, then Courtney Pregner made a basket and free throw to put Minster ahead 26-24 with 6:14 left. Ivy Wolf and Fischer hit baskets to cap off the run.
“We could have just put our tails between our legs and went home and got blown out by 20 there,” Burden said. “I’m very proud of the way that we battled back after that, just to keep things where they were and give ourselves a chance to win.”
New Bremen battled back quick and finished the last four minutes of the third on an 8-0 run to cut Minster’s lead to 34-32. Kelly Naylor hit a free throw to start the run, then Paige Jones made a foul shot, 3-pointer and long jumper.
Macy Puthoff scored the first basket of the fourth to give New Bremen a 35-34 lead. Pregner hit a foul shot with 5:11 left to tie it 37-37, and the teams traded baskets over the next two minutes.
Jones hit 2-of-3 free throws with 2:56 left to put New Bremen ahead 41-39, but Minster scored the next six points.
Ivy Wolf hit a basket with 2:41 left, then Fischer scored after a steal 10 seconds later to give Minster a 43-41 lead. Ivy Wolf added another basket on an inbounds play with 1:38 left to increase the Wildcats’ lead to four points.
Naylor hit a bank-shot 3-pointer with 17 seconds left to cut Minster’s lead to 45-44. Ivy Wolf then missed a one-and-one free-throw opportunity two seconds later, but the ball went out-of-bounds off a New Bremen player. Minster threw the ball inbounds and ate 10 seconds off the clock before Demaris Wolf was fouled.
After Demaris Wolf’s foul shots, New Bremen threw the ball inbounds to Naylor, and she shot a 3-pointer from the top of the key that bounced off the back of the rim at the buzzer.
Though the Cardinals hadn’t fared well against the other top MAC opponents it had faced, Wiss said he expected the game to be a fight.
“I know they lost to Versailles and Fort Recovery, but both nights they didn’t shoot the ball great,” Wiss said. “That wasn’t going to happen tonight.”
Pregner led Minster with 14 points while Ivy Wolf added 11 and Demaris Wolf finished with nine. Jones led the Cardinals with 17 while Naylor finished with 11 and Puthoff scored nine.
Minster (13-1, 5-0 MAC) has another big conference game next Thursday at Versailles. The Tigers, which are ranked No. 2 in Division III, beat Fort Recovery 44-30 on Thursday. Versailles (15-1) is 6-0 in conference play, while Fort Recovery (11-2, No. 10 in D-IV) is 4-1.
But Minster has a big nonconference game to worry about before turning its attention to Versailles. The Wildcats will host No. 3-ranked Ottoville (15-0) on Saturday.
“We’re going to continue to get people’s best shots,” Wiss said.
New Bremen (13-3, 2-3) plays again next Thursday at home against New Knoxville. Burden said he hopes Thursday’s game will help boost the team’s confidence for the rest of the season.
“We can play,” Burden said. “We can come out and play with the best teams in our conference if we come out and show that desire and give that effort. The character of the team really showed tonight what we’re made of.”
New Bremen, which is ranked No. 11 D-IV, scored the last five points of the second quarter to take a 24-19 halftime lead. Jones hit an inside basket with 1:04 left to start the run, then Naylor got a steal and scored a layup and free throw with 30 seconds left.
The Cardinals jumped out in front 5-2 through the first two minutes of the game, but Minster scored the next eight points to take a five-point lead. Jane Homan hit a 3-pointer from the left wing with 31 seconds left, but Ivy Wolf hit a basket before the end of the quarter to put Minster up 12-8.
Homan hit a 3-pointer with 5:46 left in the second to cap off a 7-3 run by New Bremen and tie the score 15-15. The teams traded baskets until the Cardinals’ 5-0 run to end the second.
“I was most disappointed in us giving up 24 points in the first half,” Wiss said. “That’s not us, to give up 24 points in the half. We addressed that and didn’t give up that many in the second half.”
New Bremen had over 10 turnovers in the first quarter, but the Cardinals made up for it by dominating rebounding. Minster didn’t have an offensive rebound until early in the second quarter.
“We got back in transition,” Burden said. “We talked that if we wanted to give ourselves a chance, we had to get back and not give them any easy buckets, easy layups in transition. I thought for the most part we did that in the first half and were able to build from there.”
Minster kept up its long winning streak over New Bremen with the win. The Cardinals haven’t beaten Minster since Jan. 8, 2009.
Contact Bryant Billing at (937) 538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter.