After losing most of its starting lineup to graduation this season, the Newman Catholic boys basketball team has had to rely on its young players to step into big roles.
With those young players come flashes of potential, like on Friday night when the Knights nearly pulled off an impressive comeback against St. Ansgar, only to fall agonizingly short in the final seconds, 67-64.
The Knights were down by as much as 11 points in the game, but late in the fourth quarter, had pulled back to within three points. Down 60-52 midway through the fourth, momentum shifted Newman's way when freshman Max Burt was fouled while driving toward the basket. After the ball went in, Burt added a third point on the ensuing free throw.
Saints senior Erik Gerdts got two more points with a bucket of his own, to boost the Saints' lead back to eight points, at 63-55.
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A 3-pointer then brought the Knights' to within five.
Trying to stop the clock, the Knights fouled Gerdts. The senior made both baskets to push the lead back to seven points. Newman got the ball back, and Burt drove toward the basket and tipped it in to make the score 65-60.
After an overthrown pass from Saints' senior Jack Sievert, the Knights got the ball back and quickly scored again on a bucket from junior James Matthews, much to the delight of the Newman Catholic bench, and its animated head coach, Jerry Gatton.
Gatton called a timeout with just seconds remaining. The Knights fouled Gerdts again, trying to stop the clock, and he again made both of his baskets, as the Saints went up by five points.
Burt managed to get one more bucket before time expired, but it was too late. With the three-point loss, the Knights fell to 5-5 on the season. Newman Catholic outscored the Saints in the fourth quarter, 26-16.
With the victory, St. Ansgar improved its record to 5-5. The Saints will play on Tuesday, against Central Springs. The Knights will also play on Tuesday, at Osage.