ELKHART — Assistant coach Michael Wohlford’s brief and to-the-point chat with Sam Stegelmann worked.
After coming out of the game for just one possession early in the fourth quarter, Goshen’s leading scorer both on the season and in the contest returned, and transformed into Mr. Distributor.
Stegelmann drove and fed Deric Haynes inside for the decisive basket with 19 seconds left as the Redskins nipped longtime nemesis Memorial 44-42 in the opening round of the Class 4A Elkhart Sectional on Tuesday, Feb. 26 at North Side Gym.
Following Haynes’ hoop, the Crimson Chargers’ Markese McGuire missed a 15-footer in the final seconds of the back-and-forth battle to help set off Goshen fans rushing the court and, later, Goshen players continuing to let out joyful, unabashed yells in the locker room.
“You hate to celebrate that much after the first (round), but Memorial’s been a monkey on our back, and the kids knew that,” Redskin coach Brian Bechtel said upon improving to 1-10 against Charger coach Mark Barnhizer. “They read the papers, and we’ve talked about it. It’s been like 10 times.”
Actually 12 meetings overall, dating to before Barnhizer, since Goshen last beat Memorial during the 2004-05 regular season.
“Jesse (Good) and I have been starting since sophomore year,” said Stegelmann, a senior, “and that’s the first time we’ve beaten them in about five games playing them. It’s just a really good feeling.”
Stegelmann, in addition to scoring 17 points, helped create that feeling with his precision passing. Besides the game-winning feed to Haynes, he twice in the fourth period drove along the baseline and spotted teammates — first Austin Henke, then Haynes — in the right corner for 3-point swishes.
Henke’s trey trimmed the Chargers’ lead to 38-37 with 4:12 left, then Haynes’ put the winners up 40-38, the last of nine lead changes on the night.
Stegelmann said his mind wasn’t firmly made up to pass off on any of the drives, rather he just wanted to take what was available.
“It’s basically where the defense is,” Stegelmann said. “I try not to think too much when I play, because that throws me off, but whenever I started driving, they doubled over, so I’m fine with anybody on our team doing the scoring.”
“Sam was trying to do too much for a while there,” Bechtel said, “but Coach Wohlford (who handles nearly all the substituting) pulled him out for one possession in the fourth quarter to tell him, ‘You’re pressing the issue. Let the game come to you,’ and I have to give both of them credit for that. When Sam went out, I looked at (Wohlford) like, ‘What are you doing?’ But it was the right thing.”
“I had a talk with Coach Wohlford,” Stegelmann said. “I was trying to score, but he helped me realize there’s other ways to win the game. I realized there were some passes open that I wasn’t making.”
“We let Stegelmann go left,” Barnhizer said. “We knew what he could do and we didn’t stop it. You gotta force him right. He goes left really well, and when we let him go left, he scored or found someone for 3s.”
The Redskins improved to 14-7, their best mark since finishing 15-7 a decade ago, and advanced to a Friday semifinal against Northridge (9-11), a team they beat 49-46 early in the regular season.
Goshen also won a postseason game for the first time in four years, while defending sectional champ Memorial (8-13) was ousted in its sectional opener for the first time in five years, after going 11-4 over the last four postseasons.
“We won more games than I thought we would going into the season, and we’ve played people tough,” said Barnhizer, who lost his four starters other than McGuire to graduation off last winter’s 24-2 club. “But when you get into that position, you gotta win. No excuses. We had opportunities to win and didn’t get the job done.”
McGuire led all players with 25 points. The senior also moved into second on the all-time Charger chart, finishing at 1,246, sandwiched between 1989 grad Ross Hales at 1,323 and 1991 grad Daimon Beathea at 1,228.
McGuire’s final points came along the right baseline to knot the game at 42-all with 2:08 remaining, the sixth tie of the evening.
Each team then had a pair of empty possessions before Haynes’ game-winner.
After Haynes’ basket, Memorial opted not to call a timeout, and McGuire ultimately got off a contested but decent look.
“Our best player had the ball and got a shot we wanted,” Barnhizer said. “Our team isn’t good at getting the ball in bounds against pressure that can be set up, so we just gotta go.”
You also “gotta make free throws,” the coach emphasized.
“The ballgame was won and lost at the line,” Barnhizer said. “It’s that simple. They made their free throws in the fourth quarter (2-of-2) and we missed ours (0-of-2), and that’s the game.”
McGuire added a team-high three steals to the 25 points. He finished 10-of-23 from the field with three 3-pointers.
Sophomore Dimitri Giger added eight points, five rebounds and two steals. Senior James Hershberger had five points, four boards, two steals and two assists.
“It’s a great group of kids,” Barnhizer said. “I loved coaching our kids. Our five seniors are some of the best boys in the world you’ll deal with. And we came a long way, but you still want to win.”
Stegelmann added a team-high five boards to his 17 points for the Redskins. Haynes, a junior, netted nine points off the bench — seven of those in the fourth quarter — while seniors Good and Henke combined for 13 points.
Goshen’s largest lead was 42-38 with 2:30 to go, before back-to-back buckets by McGuire knotted the score.
The Redskins’ largest deficit was 33-26 with 2:51 remaining in the third quarter.
“We had too many turnovers, got a little sped up by their athleticism and quickness,” said Bechtel, who was coaching his 300th game at Goshen, “but it comes down to getting stops and rebounds. We gave up too many offensive rebounds, but I thought we settled down well on offense from some nerves we had, got through some anxieties, and did just enough to win.”
4A Elkhart Sectional
Goshen 44, Memorial 42
Memorial — Dimitri Giger 2-3 4-4 8, Freddie Rhodes 0-2 0-0 0, Michael O’Toole 0-0 0-0 0, Markese McGuire 10-23 2-4 25, James Hershberger 2-5 0-0 5, Evan Andersen 2-4 0-2 4, Darien Williams 0-0 0-0 0, Spenser Gilbert 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 16-37 (.432) 6-10 (.600) 42.
Goshen — Sam Stegelmann 6-12 4-5 17, Austin Woolett 1-3 1-2 3, Austin Henke 2-4 0-0 6, Jesse Good 3-7 0-0 7, Brady Bechtel 1-4 0-0 2, Deric Haynes 3-5 2-2 9, Alex Hartsough 0-0 0-0 0, Cristian Barron 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 16-35 (.457) 7-9 (.778) 44.
Scoring By Quarters
Memorial 11 11 13 7 — 42
Goshen 12 11 9 12 — 44
3-point goals: Memorial (4-13) — McGuire 3-9, Hershberger 1-4; Goshen (5-12) — Henke 2-4, Haynes 1-2, Stegelmann 1-3, Good 1-3.
Rebounds: Memorial (25) — Rhodes 8, Giger 5, Hershberger 4; Goshen (18) — Stegelmann 5, Bechtel 4.
Assists: Memorial (8) — Giger 3; Goshen (10) — Bechtel 5, Stegelmann 3.
Steals: Memorial (7) — McGuire 3, Giger 2, Hershberger 2; Goshen (6) — Bechtel 3, Henke 2.
Turnovers: Memorial 15, Goshen 14.
Fouls: Memorial 14, Goshen 13. Fouled out — none.
Officials: Robert Childers, Tom Hinz, Kent Denlinger.
Records: Memorial 8-13, Goshen 14-7.
Next: Concord vs. Warsaw, 6 p.m., followed by Northridge vs. Goshen, Friday, March 1 in 4A Elkhart Sectional semifinals.