KOUTS — With seven of its nine losses coming by single digits, Kouts was due for some luck from the basketball gods.
Following a Zac Nomanson bucket that tied the game at 68 for the Mustangs, they then nabbed a steal with Brent Wireman getting into the lane on the other end and drawing a blocking call.
With 4.6 seconds to go, the junior guard calmly stepped to the line sunk both to give Kouts a 70-68 home win over Porter County Conference foe Washington Township on Tuesday.
"I looked over to the sideline and saw (Kouts) coach (Kevin Duzan) just point to the basket," Wireman said. "I took whatever I could find and drew contact and just went up. ... I know I'm a good free-throw shooter and can knock down down. I shoot freen throws all the time, so there were no nerves there."
The Mustangs (10-9, 4-2) won for the first time in five games, having lost the previous four by six, two, eight and one.
"That was just a classic PCC battle," Kouts coach Kevin Duzan said. "That was just two teams that wanna win and it went back and forth and (Tuesday) was our night. We've had enough of them that haven't been our night, so it was nice to get a close win. Washington's a good team and Scott (Bowersock) has done a great job over there and that was a good win for our boys.
"We've been so close and when you're that close all the time and don't win, you kind of start hanging your head a little bit, so to finally get a close win tonight was good for us."
Kouts' Dillan Matthes down two of his four 3s in the first quarter for eight of his 14 first-half points as he finished with 18 points and six rebounds. Freshman Cole Wireman picked up where Matthes left off pouring in 15 of his game-high 29 points to give the Mustangs a 39-35 lead at the break.
"We like playing a little bit faster," Duzan said. "We have the guards that can create some stuff on the break and you saw (Tuesday) that we got some pretty quick baskets in transition. I told them to get to the basket against these guys and when we did, we were successful. When we stopped doing that and started relying primarily on the outside, that's when they got in the game.
"Dillan got us started and Cole made shots that kept us going in the right direction. The guys made plays in the end and I'm really proud of the fight in them, they competed hard."
There were three ties and three lead changes in the third but a Jared Armstrong 3-pointer put Washington up 53-52 for it its first lead since 6-5. Zach Brys had seven of his team-high 17 for the Senators in the frame.
"He's one of the best sixth mans in the area," Washington coach Scott Bowersock said of Brys. "He does his job and he goes in and crashed and does everything we want him to do. He energized us."
Cole Wireman scored 10 in the fourth quarter, including a 3-pointer to tie it at 62. Brent Wireman had nine points and six assists.
"I just finally started playing with some confidence and having no fear on the court," Wireman said. "I got out and started running the floor and my brother (Brent) always finds me, he's really good at that."
Reserve-turned starter Zac Nomanson filled in for Tyler Heimberg with eight second half points.
"We ran that play to get it to Zac," Duzan said. "We said this is what we're gonna do and told Zac that he'll score against that guy that's gonna guard him because we knew it wouldn't be (Brock) Pappas."
A bang-bang play then ensued as Kouts raced to the other end for the eventual game-winning free-throws as Pappas' heave from the volleyball line would fall short resulting in the Senators droppeing their first PCC contest.
"They shot unbelievable and that's a credit to them," Bowersock said. "They hit shots when they needed them. If we run our offense, we get to the free-throw line and we chose not to do that, we just got away form it. It comes down to executing and doing things we've been working on in practice and it just didn't carry over."
Colin Burton matched Clem with 17 for the Senators (12-4, 4-1). Dylan Clem had 15 points and 10 rebounds, while Pappas chipped nine points and six assists.