MUNSTER | Munster has had a great boys basketball team for the past decade. The one thing that separates these Mustangs and all the others is their ability to hit a 3-pointer.
With players like Michael Schlotman, Luke Wuchenich and Drew Hackett, the Times No. 1 Mustangs know how to hang the net. They've been doing it all winter.
But on Thursday night inside The Fieldhouse, No. 10 West Side went arc-to-arc with the hosts. Especially early.
“If they would've hit all game like they did in the first quarter we would've been in trouble,” Munster coach Mike Hackett said after his Mustangs held on for a nervous 47-39 win.
The Cougars hit five 3-pointers in the opening quarter, showing the program they've lost 11 consecutive games to that this could be a different affair.
West Side got within three with 1:37 left in the game, as Arnold Wilson got on a roll for the Cougars (9-6), but Munster's Nate Bubash made 3-pointer and Schlotman's deuce finished off the scoring.
“We know they want to beat us every time we play them,” said Schlotman, who had eight points and three assists in the win. “We finally started rebounding their misses and converting our baskets.”
He smiled when asked about this year's team love of the long ball.
“We're going to shoot them if we're open,” Schlotman said. “That's our game.”
The first five made shots of the game were 3-pointers. West Side's JaRe' Glover hit three in the first eight minutes. Darius Bates and Curtis Lee also banged the twine.
West Side led 18-12 after one quarter, a frame that saw Hackett, Schlotman and Wuchenich also hit 3s.
“They only hit one more (three) the rest of the game,” Mike Hackett said. “I didn't think they'd keep shooting that way. They didn't.”
Munster led the Cougars 26-22 at halftime, proof the Class 4A Sectional 1 tournament, which will be held at West Side, may not be a Munster walk-through.
West Side coach Murray Richards was proud of the effort his Cougars showed.
“When they hit their 3s they're a dangerous team,” Richards said. “They catch and shoot. We were getting out to them too late. I'm not mad at all. We're a young team.”
Richards praised the play of Wilson, who scored 12 points. Glover had a team-high 16 points.
Wilson scored five points at the end of the third to get his team within seven.
West Side got within four points at the four-minute mark on baskets by Denzel Casson, Wilson and Glover, but Hackett nailed another 3 forcing the Cougars to call a timeout with 3:48 left down seven again.
Hackett had a game-high 17 points, hitting four 3-pointers. Munster (20-0) was 8-of-19 from beyond the arc. West Side was 6-of-18.
The Cougars' physical and quick defense slowed Munster's offense in the second half. West Side was within striking distance several times. Pat McCarthy came off the bench and scored six points at the end of the third in Munster's Senior Night.
“Pat McCarthy gives us quality, positive minutes,” Mike Hackett said. “He finds a way to score. We just get quality minutes from Pat McCarthy all the time.”
At the break the Cougars held a commanding 19-14 lead in rebounds. At the end of the game the lead was only 29-27. The Cougars started missing more and the 'Stangs stopped giving them second looks.
Richards was pleased with the play of sophomore Christian Jacobs. The 6-foot-7 big man kept Nate Bubash to only four points.
“(Jacobs) have him all kinds of trouble,” Richards said. “He's going to be really good.