Bowler boys basketball team’s comeback thwarted by last-second triple

Panthers drop CWC-North home game
Morgan Rode
Sports Editor

The Bowler High School boys basketball team saw its furious late rally turned away after Northland Lutheran hit a late 3-pointer in a Central Wisconsin Conference-North Division contest on Feb. 9 in Bowler.

Bowler’s desperation heave at the buzzer was off the mark, allowing Northland Lutheran to escape with a 55-53 win.

The Panthers trailed for most of the game and were behind 50-40 with just under five minutes to play.

Free throws from Emmitt Kietlinski and a basket from Beau Brunner got Bowler within six with over two minutes to play. After two missed free throws from the visitors, Brunner knocked down a 3-pointer to make it 50-47.

Northland Lutheran missed two more free throws and was later assessed a technical foul after a charging call. Kietlinski made the two tehcnical free throws with 1:07 to play to make it a one-point game.

Bowler missed the front end of a one-and-one opportunity, but Northland Lutheran missed two more free throws on the other end.

Bowler missed on its next drive down the court, but Kietlinski came up with the loose ball and converted a shot while being fouled. He wasn’t able to convert the free throw, but made up for it with a pair of free throws with 12.8 seconds left after Northland Lutheran had made a shot on its end.

After a Bowler timeout, Northland Lutheran drove the ball down the court and into the lane before kicking the ball out to the perimeter for the game-winning 3-pointer. Brunner got up the final-second heave, but it was off the mark.

While it was a game Bowler hoped to win to strengthen its chances of a conference title, the comeback effort alone is something the Panthers hope to use going forward.

“We got in that big slump early and that really hurt us, but I was honestly very happy with our effort,” said Kietlinski, who scored 20 points. “I think it’s the best we’ve played in a really long time and I was very happy with our effort and I thought we played really well even though we fell a little short tonight.”

“We slowly came back and ate at ‘em you could say,” said Brunner, who finished with 17 points. “We just kept pounding on the boards and putting up shots and some would fall and some wouldn’t but we came back.”

Just to be able to take the lead late in the contest seemed like a far-fetched idea for most of the contest.

Bowler scored first in the game, but Northland Lutheran scored the next 15 points. The Panthers had some early close misses at the basket and a handful of turnovers, while the visitors were able to drive and get most of their points right at the rim.

Kietlinski finally got the hosts going with a couple baskets about halfway through the opening half. He had seven points, while Tristan Thiex had eight in the opening half to help the team only trail by nine, 29-20, at halftime.

The teams traded baskets for the early portion of the second half.

Brunner heated up about halfway through the half and got the hosts within four after a steal and layup and 3-point make.

Over the next three-plus minutes, Bowler was outscored 7-1 to create the 10-point deficit, 50-40. During that stretch, both Marcus Malone and Thiex fouled out, leaving Bowler’s seven-player rotation with just the five guys on the court.

Northland Lutheran 29 26 — 55

Bowler 20 33 — 53

Northland Lutheran (55): Alex Emmerich 0-0 6, Jack Hahn 0-0 2, Mitchell Kracht 2-4 6, Karsten Zahrt 7-17 17, Andrew Oblender 1-3 5, Andrew Wiechmann 1-4 14, Joe Oblender 0-1 5.

Bowler (53): Marcus Malone 1-3 3, Emmitt Kietlinski 8-11 20, Beau Brunner 0-2 17, Tristan Thiex 0-0 10, Brady Strassburg 0-1 0, Damian Terrio 1-1 3.