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Last-second shot pushes Plainsmen to thrilling comeback win over Longhorns PDF Print E-mail

By Pastor Vince Carrig

Sports Writer

Kye Kurkowski dropped a clutch  turn-around jumper into the bottom of the net with :09 left to make the home crowd scream and give the Plainsmen a 49-47 win over Chase County Thursday night in Grant. 

The Plainsmen had trailed for the entire game until that point except for a brief 10-10 first quarter tie.  

The Longhorns’ lead had bulged to seven points with a couple left in the third quarter, and they carried a 46-42 lead into the final 1:50 of play.

But Kurkowski took an inbound pass from the right sideline with 13.7 seconds remaining and immediately spun and drained his patented jumper from the right block.

“He is 6’10” and is shooting about 65 percent for the season. I don’t think we go
anywhere else,” Plainsmen Head Coach Shawn Cole said of his decision to put the fate of the team in his senior center’s hands. 

Max Jones reduced the Longhorns’ chances to the nutrition value of cotton candy by intercepting a long outlet pass and hitting a foul shot for Perkins County’s last point. A desperation shot from beyond half court (that would have won Chase County the game) glanced harmlessly off the rim at the buzzer.

Chase County could have salted the game away, but unfortunately guard Alex Strand missed four of five free throws in the final minutes. 

Long-range shooting and Kurkowski’s presence under the basket dictated the game. 

Strand connected on two three pointers, as did teammate Jeff Banks. The Longhorns stroked several shots from on or just inside the arc, like Tanner Stromberger’s success with a hand in his face to give Chase County a 39-34 fourth quarter lead. 

Kurkowski (16 points) fed the well a steady diet of turnaround jumpers and close-range banks, but one stood out. The 6-foot-10 center blindly glanced a shot into the backboard square with his back to right of the basket, never actually seeing his target.

Kurkowski blocked five shots, changed others, and likely influenced the opponent’s interest in shooting from around the arc and not inside the paint.

Michael York came through in the clutch for Perkins County with a “three” from the right corner and a long third quarter jumper that swirled down the hatch. York (seven points) played stellar defense on two consecutive Longhorns possession, partially blocking a shot back to the shooter and hustling to completely block his next shot from behind his stroke. York blocked Chase County’s next shot as well.

“They made them when we needed them,” Coach Cole said of the clutch outside shooting of Jones and York.

Max Jones also netted himself a three pointer for the Plainsmen to keep the Longhorns from running away with the game, pulling his team to 23-19. Jones shook off a couple of interesting charging calls to plug in a left-wing jumper to pull Perkins County to 42-40 in the fourth quarter.

Plainsmen guard Josh Sexson did not content himself to shoot from the outside, but rushed and bulled to the basket. Sexson (12 points) earned and nailed four second quarter free throws by taking an interception and then a dribble full speed ahead to the rack. 

Sexson at full steam got to an opening at the middle of the lane and brought Perkins County to within one point at 43-42, and then motivated Longhorns forward Charles Haarberg to commit his fifth and final foul.  

Daniel Regier looked poised to steer the Longhorns to a win with his eight second quarter points. The hook shot worked well for him twice during the outburst, but he did not score again and finished with 10 points.

Stromberger actually hit two long shots with a defender nearby, striking for six third quarter points and eight in the game, but none in the fourth quarter.