By Rob Potter
JEFFERSONVILLE February 8, 2002 It was fitting that Sullivan West guard Evan Kraack stood at the foul line with only 9.7 seconds remaining in Tuesday nights game.
After all, it was Kraacks hot shooting in the first half that enabled Sullivan West to take a 25-22 halftime lead over visiting Tuxedo in the OCIAA Division IV contest.
The large crowd became hushed as Kraack prepared to shoot the ball. He calmly made the first free throw and then the second to give the Bulldogs a 56-52 lead over the Tornadoes.
With 1.4 seconds left teammate Rob Orr was fouled after he rebounded an errant Tuxedo three-point shot. Orr then calmly swished both of his free throws to guarantee Sullivan Wests win.
The 58-52 victory by the Bulldogs gave Tuxedo (10-5, 4-1 OCIAA) its first loss in Division IV competition. SW improved to 10-3 overall and 2-2 in OCIAA Division IV play.
While the Bulldogs were able to extend their three point halftime lead to as many as a dozen points in the third quarter, Tuxedo rallied in the fourth quarter to place the outcome in doubt until those final few seconds.
Twice in the last four minutes of the game, Tuxedo cut the SW lead to a single point. But the Bulldogs never relinquished the lead in those tense moments.
This was a big win for us, SW Co-Coach Rick Ellison said. Tuxedo is a good team with good outside shooters and theyre well-coached. So we were not surprised they made a run in the fourth quarter.
SW Co-Coach Bob Menges noted that the Bulldogs shooting and rebounding were integral to the win.
We told our guards that the top of their zone would be open and they were able to hit some shots, Menges said. In the second half, we went to the inside game more. We also controlled the boards offensively and defensively in the second half.
SW center Mike Ahnstrom scored 13 points and grabbed 16 rebounds in the contest, with the bulk of his points and rebounds coming in the third and fourth quarters.
But in the first two periods, it was Kraacks accuracy from beyond the three-point arc that was a key for the Bulldogs. The senior point guard hit four three-pointers in the first half three in the second quarter to spur the SW offensive attack.
The big guys inside were able to kick it out to me and I was open, said Kraack, who finished the game with a team-high 22 points. But the team as a whole had a good game tonight. It was big win for us, we knew we had to beat Tuxedo because they were undefeated in the division.
Forward Alex Van Loon added eight points for the Bulldogs and guard Justin Pinkel dished out 10 assists.
Leading the Tuxedo offense were Seth Caridi, who netted a game-high 24 points, and Greg Rohlfs, who drilled a trio of three-point shots and finished with 15 points.
We made a good run towards the end, but it wasnt quite enough, Tuxedo Coach Joe DiMattina said. We came out a little slack tonight and made some turnovers. We had won seven in a row until we lost to Cornwall a couple of days ago and now to Sullivan West. We have to get back on the right track.