Wildcats earn consolation at Eugene tournament

Posted 12/6/23

Linn overca me a first-round loss at the Eugene tournament to win the next two and claim consolation.

“The guys stacked three straight tough and gritty performances at Eugene,” said …

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Wildcats earn consolation at Eugene tournament


Linn overcame a first-round loss at the Eugene tournament to win the next two and claim consolation.

“The guys stacked three straight tough and gritty performances at Eugene,” said Coach Braden Ham. “I’m very proud of the poise and resiliency we displayed in each game.”

In Saturday’s consolation final, Linn defeated Russellville 62-48.

Linn trailed 13-12 after the first quarter but rallied in the second for a 28-27 halftime advantage. A solid third quarter proved to be the difference as the Wildcats outscored the Indians 19-6.

Gus Peters went 3-6 from three-point range on his way to a team-high 17 points. Zach Hatfield hit 2-6 from beyond the arc, and Ashton Keilholz drained 4-9 as the duo scored 12 points apiece.

Also scoring were Noah Hall (1-4 3PT) with nine, Austin Dudenhoeffer (1-2 3PT) added five, Kahne Brandt scored three, and Craig Laughlin and Cody Heckman posted two each.

Hatfield led with six assists, as Keilholz added four, Brandt, Hall, and Peters each had two, and Dudenhoeffer finished with one.

Keilholz led the rebounding effort with nine, followed by Keilholz and Hall (7 each), Dudenhoeffer and Peters (4 apiece), Laughlin and Hatfield (2 each), and Heckman (1).

Defensively, Hall’s four steals were tops as Hatfield added two, and Heckman, Laughlin, and Keilholz posted one apiece. Laughlin, Heckman, Hatfield, and Keilholz each had a block.

In the consolation semifinals, Linn knocked off Macks Creek 55-42.

The Wildcats led the entire game, extending a 30-27 halftime lead to 46-36 by halftime. Linn shot 43.2% from the floor and covered 5-20 from three-point range. A significant difference in the game was Linn’s 12-13 performance at the line as Macks Creed went 4-10.

Hall (2-3 3PT, 5-6 FT for 15), Keilholz (2-2 FT, 6-10 2PT for 14), and Peters (2-7 3PT, 3-3 2PT for 12) reached double figures to lead the Wildcats. Dudenhoeffer (1-4 3PT, 2-6 2PT, 1-1 FT for 8), Hatfield (4-4 FT for 4), and Heckman (2). Keilholz led with three assists, Hall had two, and Hatfield and Dudenhoeffer finished with one apiece.

On the glass, Hall snagged a team-high eight rebounds, followed by Peters (5), Keilholz and Dudenhoeffer (4 each), Hatfield (2), and Heckman and Brandt (1 each).

Defensively, Hall posted three steals, Keilholz added two, and Brandt posted one.

Linn lost to Osage 57-45 in the opener.

After a relatively even first quarter ended with Linn trailing 18-16, the Wildcats scored eight points in the second to trail 32-24 at the break. In the third, Linn won 13-12, and the Cats scored eight in the final period. The Wildcats shot 35.4% from the floor, hit 6-22 from three-point range, and 5-6 from the stripe.

Hatfield covered 3-9 and hit 1-2 from the line for a team-leading 14 points. Hall (3-7 3PT) added 11, followed by Peters (2-2 2PT, 4-4 FT for 8), Keilholz (3-5 2PT for 6), and Dudenhoeffer (3-7 2PT for 6). Peters led with three assists, and Keilholz, Hatfield, and Dudenhoeffer each had two.

Rebounding was led by Keilholz and Hatfield, each of whom grabbed seven, followed by Dudenhoeffer (5), Hall (3), Peters (2), and Laughlin (1).

Defensively, Peters counted three steals, and Dudenhoeffer added two, while Keilholz and Hatfield each posted a block.

Coach Ham summed up the Eugene tournament in three words: toughness, trust, and confidence.

“We took steps forward in those areas,” he added. “Each day, there are opportunities all around us. It is up to us and only us to maximize each opportunity. We did just that in the toughness department in this tournament. Our ball movement improved each game, and we were more violent on our defensive rebounds, especially in the second half of the Russellville game.”