By Jon Miller
Colorado Springs – Brody Gish looked up at his parents late in the game. The sophomore had scored 16 of the Spartans 33 points through three quarters. Down 47-33 to start the final period, Gish and his teammates had a lot of ground to cover in a small amount of time. Facing a 14 point deficit, playing at their temporary home of Wasson, and with a depleted bench, the Spartans needed help.
“I looked up at my parents and they told me that Schaf (Schafer Reichart) was awake and he was watching the game,” Gish said of the comeback. “I was like its go time, time to turn it on and show Schaf that we are picking up his slack.”
Despite being over 60 miles away in Denver’s Children’s Hospital, Reichart gave his teammates the boost they needed.
Gish scored a game high 24 points. Junior Lucas Moermanadded 21.
“I think about the moments my coach put in with me in the gym,I was dead tired there and kept working,” Moerman said of how he finds his motivation. “Schaf is a huge motivation, he is such a great guy and we want to fight for him.”
The Spartans (8-9, 5-3) started the final period with a Lucas Moerman free throw. Pine Creeks Peyton Westfall’s layup gave the Eagles (13-7, 4-5) a 15 point lead, their largest of the game, 49-34 with over seven minutes remaining.
Trey Carter nailed a three pointer, followed by a basket by Moerman.
This was not just any basket.
After two straight misses, the 6’10 junior made sure he did not miss again, this time slamming it down one handed to cut the deficit to 10, 49-39.
“I went up a few time times and kept getting my own boards,” Moerman said of his shots that would not fall. “Finally I just got frustrated and just threw it in!”
Moerman’s dunk sent the Doherty faithful in a frenzy and energized the Spartans even more.
“We were still down but it convinced us that we had a chance to get this win,” Doherty Coach Eric Steinert said of Moerman’sdunk.
The Spartans continued to roll.
Gish hit a three, followed by an AJ Guiao runner. Gish added another triple, pulling the Spartans within three, 50-47.
Pine Creek’s Westfall hit one of two free throws to give the Eagles a two possession cushion 51-47.
Moerman again got the crowd on its feet.
Down 51-47 with 2:20 left in the fourth, Guiao drove to the hoop, pulling two defenders with him. Guiao lofted the ball over the defenders, allowing Moerman to grab the ball in midair and slam it home. The Spartan bench erupted as he completed the alley-oop.
“It was a great alley-oop from AJ,” Moerman added.
Trevor Oldervik tied the game at 51 with a pair of free throws with less than two minutes left.
Doherty had the ball and a chance to win the game in regulationbut Guiao was called for five seconds as he drove to the hoop.
With 10.7 seconds remaining, the Eagles had the final shot. Grant Wilkson, Pine Creeks leading scorer of the night drove to the basket for the lead. His layup, contested by Moerman and Oldervik, hit off the backboard and the side of the rim. Wilkinson landed awkwardly after splitting the two defenders.
Gish grabbed the missed shot and sprinted down court, heaving a half-court shot at the buzzer. His shot hit the backboard and bounced off the back of the rim.
Wilkson was still on the ground under the Pine Creek basket and needed attention. He was helped up and off the court but was unable to return.
When the final quarter ended the teams were tied at 51, and Doherty had completed an 18-4 run in the final period of regulation.
Moerman hit a pair of free throws to start overtime, giving the Spartans its first lead since Gish’s three on Doherty’s first possession of the game.
Max Lofy hit a layup and a pair of free throws to put the Eagles back in front 55-53. Doherty countered with a 10-0 run, taking the 63-55 lead late in overtime. Westfall hit a three as the final horn sounded with the Spartans on top 63-58.
The Spartans are now 3-0 since Reichart was admitted to the hospital, and are playing like a team on a mission.
“Schaf played a big part,” Gish said.
“We are also coming together and have gelled. We know where each other is at on the court at all times,” Gish continued. “We know what to do now, I feel like we don’t crumble under pressure anymore and we are a more mature team.”
Grant Wilkson led the Eagles with 18 points, 12 of which came from beyond the arc in the first quarter. Max Lofy added 11.
The Eagles hit 16 field goals through the first three quarters but only managed thee in the fourth quarter and overtime combined.
After the game, Steinart gave an update on Reichart.
“He has had two really good days. He is speaking, it’s hard for him but he is speaking,” Doherty’s head coach said. “He had some test done where he was able to recall some memories, and he stood up today, but he still has a ways to go. He actually sent us a video before the game to encourage the guys as best as he could and that really fired some guys up. We just miss him. We have Lewis-Palmer tomorrow and after the game I am going to drive up and go see him. It will be the first time I’ll get to see him and him be alert and aware that I am there. We miss him but he is doing a lot better.”
The support for Reichart continues. Red shirts were sold at the game that said #Schafer13 on the front.