Lee Forsmann's late bucket lifts Prairie boys over Genesee

Jan. 6—COTTONWOOD — The Prairie Pirates of Cottonwood and Genesee Bulldogs pulled out all the stops to make Friday's boys basketball game one worthy of the Whitepine League Division I banner.

Prairie and Genesee went down to the wire at Prairie High School and Lee Forsmann hit a turnaround layup off the glass to give the Pirates a 51-50 win over the visiting Bulldogs.

It was a back-and-forth contest that ultimately came down to who had the best look last.

"(Genesee) played with a ton of confidence," Prairie coach Tim Scheffler said. "They shot the ball really well. It seemed like we struggled to get shots to go down, especially from the outside. ... But it was a fun game. Always exciting when it comes down to the last play."

Here's how Friday's league contest shaped out:

Danger zone

Genesee (1-10, 0-6) has played a solid 2-3 zone defense all season. Which was all the better for the Bulldogs, considering Prairie (4-4, 1-4) hasn't played much against zone so far, according to Scheffler. It also proved somewhat of an equalizer for Genesee against a Pirates team with a noticeable size and length advantage.

In the early goings, the Bulldogs' defense forced several turnovers and made rebounding a battle. But Prairie was able to make some defensive plays of its own, forcing Genesee to turn the ball over four of its first five offensive possessions. The Pirates ended up having the advantage despite both teams' early offensive struggles and led the Bulldogs 13-7 with 2:52 left in the opening quarter.

Genesee called a timeout and found its groove on offense, going on a 9-3 run out of the timeout and tying the game at 16 apiece.

After the Bulldogs' run, neither team led by more than two possessions the rest of the game. But Prairie managed to keep the Bulldogs from taking a lead in the first half, utilizing a full-court press in the second quarter to keep Genesee off its rhythm and go into halftime with a 29-26 advantage.

"Our defense really showed up," Genesee coach Tyler Bollman said. "We played together. We had a great team game. I think everybody on the court was just talking to each other, we've been doing some of the stuff I've been preaching all year, and it all kind of clicked tonight."

Down to the wire

A back-and-forth third quarter saw the Bulldogs take their first lead of the game and a Derek Zenner 3-pointer as time expired sent Genesee into the final eight minutes of regulation up 41-40 over the Pirates.

Three of the Bulldogs' starters (Kaden Schwartz, Teak Wareham and Kolby Murray) were in foul trouble in the fourth and Schwartz and Murray eventually fouled out.

Even with the visitors down two of their key contributors, Prairie still couldn't break away from Genesee.

There were seven ties or lead changes in the final two-and-a-half minutes of the game. The last tie was when Schwartz picked up his fifth foul with 22.9 seconds remaining in regulation, sending Forsmann to the line.

Forsmann hit 1-of-2 shots from the charity stripe, tying the game at 49.

Zenner was fouled on the other end and hit 1-of-2 from the free throw line himself, putting the Bulldogs up 50-49 with 14.6 seconds remaining.

Then, on the Pirates' last possession of the game, Forsmann, with three Genesee defenders on him, hit a turnaround layup from the left edge of the restricted zone to put Prairie up 51-50 with 2.7 seconds remaining.

A half-court attempt by Wareham sailed left of the basket, and the Pirates earned their first Whitepine League victory of the season.

Competing at the right time

Friday's game wasn't just a case of some good ol' entertaining Whitepine League basketball, it was also a showdown between two teams that, while having disappointing results along the way, showed some capability on both sides of the ball. That will come in handy in what has been shaping up to be a fun league race this season.

"I think we're getting that buy-in now," Bollman said. "Especially after a good-energy game like this, I think we've bought into the philosophies of playing together — team basketball, sharing it. And I think there'll be a lot more growth to happen now. ... The energy (we) brought for playing three days in a row was fantastic."

Players of the game

Formsann had a game-high 23 points to lead the way for Prairie. Seth Vestal led the way for the Bulldogs with 18 points.

GENESEE (1-10, 0-6)

Kaden Schwartz 1 1-2 3, Teak Wareham 4 3-7 11, Seth Vestal 8 0-0 18, Kalitri Hubbard 0 1-2 1, Derek Zenner 4 1-2 11, Joshua Ketcheson 0 0-0 0, Joe Johnson 0 0-0 0, Kolby Murray 3 0-2 6. Totals 20 6-15 50.

PRAIRIE (4-4, 1-4)

Matt Wemhoff 0 3-4 3, Riley Shears 4 0-1 10, Trenton Lorentz 1 0-1 2, Phil Schwartz 1 1-2 3, Briggs Rambo 0 0-0 0, Logan Weber 1 1-2 3, Noah Behler 3 1-2 7, Lee Forsmann 8 6-13 23. Totals 18 12-25 51.

Genesee 16 10 15 9—50

Prairie 18 11 11 11—51

3-point goals — Vestal 2, Zenner 2, Shears 2, Forsmann.

Kowatsch can be contacted at 208-848-2268, or on Twitter @Teren_Kowatsch.