NEW ULM - Springfield boys basketball coach Lance Larson called his team's Tomahawk Conference game with New Ulm Cathedral Friday night a trap game for the Tigers following the Tigers' big win over Cedar Mountain/Comfrey on Tuesday.
Thanks to two free throws from Cooper Scheffler with 16 seconds left in the game and a Christopher Kretsch free throw with four seconds left, the Tigers escaped the trap as they came away with a hard-fought 66-63 win over the Greyhounds.
Kretsch led the Tigers (13-5, 8-3) with 17 points. Isaac Kirschstein added 12.
Ben Kittler led the Greyhounds (2-13, 2-10) with 16 points, 10 of them coming in the second half. Jake Stadick contributed 14.
"As a team we are starting to play together," Cathedral coach Paul Hazuka said. "Our defense kept us in the game - we gave up 66 points, but we also scored 63 points and we outscored them in the second half (37-31)."
Larson said that he told his team after the slim three-point win that the Tigers fought hard at the end and found a way to win.
"We are going to have games like this," Larson said. "But credit to Cathedral - for the season that they are having they worked their butts off. That is a great job that Paul does with them to get them to work that hard."
The Tigers held leads of nine points at halftime (35-26) and again at 45-36 on a Scheffler basket off of a Greyhound turnover.
Baskets from Kittler and Skillings saw Cathedral down 45-40.
A Kretsch basket was countered with buckets from Jacob Gangelhoff, Kittler and Jeff Osborne to cut the lead to 47-46 with 8:51 left in the game.
Cathedral stayed close at 51-50 on a Stadick basket and a Gangelhoff hoop off of a Tigers' turnover.
"They put good pressure on the ball," Larson said about the Greyhounds' defense. "Sometimes our guys do not handle that very well - tonight was one of those nights."
But to the Tigers' credit, they responded with baskets from Jacob Menage and Kretsch for a 55-50 lead with five minutes left in the game.
Baskets from Stadick and Gangelhoff saw Cathedral down 57-56 before an Osborne jumper with 36 seconds left saw the Greyhounds still close at 61-60.
A Collin Helget drive saw the Greyhounds down 63-62 with 17 seconds left in the game before Scheffler and Kretsch sank clutch free throws.
Hazuka praised the play of Kittler on defense. "He is starting to play well," he said. "This was his best game offensively."
"This is a game that we can grow from and get ready for February," Hazuka said.