Maple Leafs fight hard but fall short
The men’s basketball team faced one of the top ranked teams in the country, 9th ranked Bethel Pilots, this past Saturday in front of packed home crowd.
Both teams came out slow, combining for only 20 points midway through the first half. But settling down to the big game and large crowd, both opponents’ shooting heated up.
The majority of the scoring came from senior Eric McCollum who had 12, along with some from junior Simon Szablicki with seven points.
The Pilots were lead by Wes Laidig scoring 10 points. Bethel senior Ryne Lightfoot shot three of four from behind the arc. Then, with a chance for the Leafs to go into halftime up 32-31, Lightfoot made a three-quarter court shot made with 1.6 seconds left in the half. The Leafs went into the half behind, 34-32.
The second half began much the same way as the first with tough defense and each team trading basket for basket.
Goshen was able to grab the lead early on at 38-37, but then Bethel went on a 13-2 scoring run.
Goshen was not just struggling on the scoreboard though, they were facing some serious foul trouble.
Senior Nate West Jr. had picked up two early fouls putting him at four personal fouls and on the bench. Throughout the Pilots run, junior Daniel Butler II also picked up two fouls giving him four as well. With both Butler and West Jr. sitting the Leafs were struggling to find buckets and size. It forced a smaller line up and created difficult match ups against a tall Bethel team.
Bethel continued to build their lead, the largest being 14 points midway through the second half after Lightfoot hit four free throws in a row after a questionable call and a technical called on Coach Chupp.
It seemed Goshen had found the bottom: Butler II had just fouled out, Chupp had picked up a technical, the Pilots were already in the bonus and the Leafs were struggling to score. But Goshen men’s team didn’t give up.
A 3-pointer from sophomore Nate Manning, cut the lead down to eleven and seemed to spark the team.
The clock hit the five minute mark when West Jr. stepped in. Scoring six of the Leafs eight in the span of a few minutes to cut the lead to three, 63-66 with 3:16 left.
The crowd went on their feet.
Wes Laidig added to Bethel’s lead, but a clutch 3-pointer with 2:32 on the game clock from freshman Casey Pratt cut the lead to two points, 66-68. Pilots Senior Tyler Brown, who had missed the last six games with a knee injury, converted five of six from the line and made a block on the other end. Bethel played tough defense not allowing Goshen to complete their comeback. The ball game ended on a McCollum 3-pointer which cut the lead to two, 71-73.
McCollum lead all scorers with 27. Pratt, West Jr. and Szablicki also contributed nine each. Wes Laidig had 21 for the Pilots. Lightfoot added 19 shooting five of seven from behind the 3-point line.
The Goshen men’s next home game will be this Saturday, Feb. 6 at 3 pm.