By Mike Motz
Sports Writer 

Coyotes Rally Over Warriors, 44-43

 

December 22, 2021 | View PDF

On Tuesday night, there was early season showdown between Potter-Dix and Leyton in Dalton that saw a packed house watch the usual playing order flipped; first a thrilling boy's game then have the girl's game to enjoy after the boy's were finished.

The Warriors came into the contest a strong 4-and-0, with big wins against South Platte and Morrill, ready to take on a Potter-Dix team that's only played two games this far in the season, but has the speed and athleticism to be dangerous regardless of how long they've played together. Led by juniors Justin Ernest with 16 points per game and Dillon Juelfs with 13.8, the Warriors looked to match up well size and talent wise with the Coyotes. Junior Luke Kasten leads the offense with 18 points per game and sets the tone for the offense, while senior Thomas Muldoon is Potter-Dix's most consistent outside threat scoring 14 points per game.


Leyton broke out to a quick 5-to-0 lead before Potter-Dix settled into game. Potter-Dix was able to get a few clear shots at the basket inside, but their shots wouldn't fall. Leyton was able to drop in a few points when they could clear the scrum underneath the basket, and the score was 5-to-4 in favor of Leyton for the majority of the first period. Both teams played aggressive defense and had to fight for every shot, and in the closing seconds a flurry of scoring hit both offenses, and the first period ended with Potter-Dix up 11-to-10. Both teams were playing a bit wild, especially in the early going which can be chalked up to rivalry excitement. Potter-Dix was notably having trouble hitting outside shots, with three point attempts falling way short and 15 foot jump shots a full half foot off the mark.


The second period started with Potter-Dix's Luke Kasten getting an opportunity to sink two free throws, and then missing both. Finally Leyton senior KJ Bush buried a three to make the score 15-to-13 but was immediately followed by Potter-Dix sophomore Caden McConnell's three point shot to put the Coyotes ahead 16-to-15. Potter-Dix continued having trouble putting up easy lay-in shots as well as outside jumpers and started to fall behind. With about a minute left in the half, Muldoon tied the score 18-to-18 for the Coyotes before the Warriors took over in the final minute, scoring six points in a row by Bush, sophomore Jonathan Kruse and Scout Gamble's final shot hitting a three pointer gave the Warriors a comfortable 24-to-18 lead going into the intermission.


The third quarter started with a series of turnovers by both teams until bush hit for two to expand the lead to 26-18. Potter-Dix started again to rely on the outside shot, with Muldoon trying a three and missing again. That was followed by an 18 foot hit by Dillon Juelfs to increase the lead. Muldoon hit on a two point shot to narrow the gap, but Bush responded with a drive through the paint and two points to build a 10 point 30-to-20 lead. The Warriors continued their solid defense and limited the Coyote's good looks, and forced many shots that were off the mark.Leyton then went on a run to close the quarter, waiting for good shots while aggressively forcing more bad shots by Potter-Dix an took a 37-to-23 lead into the fourth quarter. Leyton added to their lead to start the quarter, but Potter-Dix came back with two points by Luke Kasten on free throws, then an up the middle drive for two points by 6'6” junior Zach Rotert to narrow the lead. The Coyotes seemed more in control of their offense and played with more a patient style than in the previous three quarters.


As time wound down it seemed that Leyton was looking to pull away and bury the coyotes once and for all, but were having problems getting good shots off and were getting out rebounded by the Coyotes. Too many times the Warriors went down the court quickly and dished off a pass to a player in the paint only to have him miss his shot and not get the rebound. The coyotes did a great job working the ball up to the offense and moving it around for their best shot opportunities. But most importantly, their shots started to fall. All of the outside and three point shots that were short or off the mark suddenly fell true through the center of the hoop and the Coyotes started to come back. After Luke Kasten made a 1-and-1 opportunity narrowed the lead to 41-to-35 a series of turnovers led to Muldoon hitting another three point shot followed by a Luke Kasten steal and two point score to give Leyton a 1 point 41-to 40 lead. Kasten then had another 1-and-1 opportunity and hit both shots to make the score 43-to-42 Leyton.

After Leyton junior Cort Rummell missed a lay-up, Luke Kasten was fouled on his second attempt to put the ball up, but made none of his free throws. Potter-Dix was able to get the ball back, and with 14 seconds left, worked the ball into the Leyton zone and then Muldoon pulled up with an 18 foot shot that was dead on target, giving the Coyotes a 44-to-43 lead, and Leyton only 1:6 seconds left to score. The ball was inbounded to Dillon Juelfs who tried a long shot, but it missed and the Coyotes had completed their comeback for the thrilling 44-to-43 win. Muldoon led the scoring for the Coyotes with 18 points, nine from three point attempts. Luke Kasten was quiet scoring-wise most of the game, but was able to score 12 points when it mattered in the win. Match for Potter -Dix to gt fully involved I the basketball action earlier and earlier as they play more game.


This was a tough loss for the Warriors, as they had a double digit lead and probably the ability to run out the clock on the Coyotes, but were unable to make their shots and grab their rebounds when it mattered most. Junior Justin Ernest led the scoring with 13 points, followed by Bush with 12. The Warriors were out-rebounded, especially in the final half, 39-to-24.


 

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