Boys basketball: Munster makes it 36 straight in NCC
By MIKE HUTTON 648-3139 or firstname.lastname@example.org. February 15, 2013 11:28PM
Munster's Nate Bubash saves a ball from going out of bounds by bouncing it off Andrean's Skyler Moss during their game held at Andrean High School on Friday February 15, 2013. | Charles Mitchell~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 17, 2013 6:48PM
MERRILLVILLE — The overflow of fans from the Munster side of the bleachers that spilled onto the Andrean gym floor after the Mustangs’ 52-50 victory Friday was tough medicine for the 59ers faithful to swallow.
They were supposed to be dancing and hugging each other and screaming.
That last-second shot by Collin Wojcik, a little step back 3-pointer from the corner, was supposed to go down.
The furious comeback — Andrean trailed by eight points with 54 seconds left — was supposed to end with them finally slaying the Munster dragon.
Ah, but this dragon is Teflon tough. Impossible to rattle at home or on the road. The Mustangs are conditioned for greatness and ready to handle bad bounces and turn bad luck into something good. They are immune to the normal stress that makes other teams buckle and wilt.
Yes, Munster (20-0) is ranked No.1 in both the Associated Press poll and the Indiana Basketball Coaches Association poll for good reason. It was the 36th straight victory for Munster in the Northwest Crossroads Conference. The Mustangs have never lost a game since the NCC started in in the 2006-2007 season.
They just figure out a way to win. Period. It was bitter, hard loss for the 59ers.
“We have played a handful of these types of games,” Munster coach Mike Hackett said. “Look at where we won — at Lake Central and at Chesterton and at Merrillville. They know how to handle this environment.”
There were also wins at West Side and East Chicago for the Mustangs. Truth is, their victories are fairly formulaic — with a few detours along the way.
They get a lead, and invariably, they start to run time off the clock and then they go to the free-throw line and make free throws.
It’s what worked against Andrean — though not perfectly.
Trailing 52-44 with 54.5 seconds left, Nick Davidson hit a 3-pointer to pull the 59ers to within five.
After a Munster turnover, Sam Toporski hit a 3-pointer with 14.9 seconds left to pull them to within two points.
Then, after Luke Wuchenich missed two free throws with 12.3 seconds left, Andrean had one final chance for the win.
The Mustangs, not wanting Davidson to beat them, got what they wanted when Wojcik, who finished 0-for-5 from 3-point range, shot from the corner. It bounced high off the rim and Andrean tried to rebound it. They couldn’t get it before time ran out.
“That was his shot,” Andrean coach Carson Cunningham said.
If there was one pivotal moment, one place where Munster got the pin hole of space it needed to make a run, it came in the second quarter when Cunningham was called for a technical.
The 59ers had scored 11 straight points, going from trailing 13-4 to leading 15-13 when Cunningham, who was hounding the officials about three seconds in the lane, was T’d up by Tom May.
Munster scored four straight — one free throw and a 3-pointer. Andrean led one more time after that when Davidson made a 3-pointer with 1:51 left in the half.
Cunningham said it’s the first technical he’s had in five years.
“I told the guys I was disappointed that it happened,” he said. “I was trying to emphasize the importance of calling three seconds. I thought I’d get a warning at least. I don’t want to complain, though. This is about the kids.”
For Munster, the celebration was sweet. Drew Hackett, Mike Hackett’s son, was clutch for them, scoring 16 points and making 9-of-10 from the free throw line.
The younger Hackett sounded just like a coach when he said it was a “great team win for us.”
Yes, it was.