“Coach was getting on us pretty hard at halftime,” said Golden Eagles big man Cordell Pemsl. “We started out slow, and we weren’t playing Golden Eagles basketball.”
Pemsl thought the reason for the sluggish start is that his team didn’t give the Sabers any respect.
“I think we overlooked this team a little bit,” Pemsl said. “We had big heads about the first two games. We expected to win big in this game, too, and we realized that this was the championship game and we weren’t going to win big.”
Wahlert coach Tom English questioned his team’s heart in the locker room at halftime.
“That was very uncharacteristic of this team,” English said. “We had to basically say that they were playing with more fire than we were, and we had to step it up.
“I don’t know how you can come out flat like we did in a championship game,” English said. “Credit the Sabers, they put us on our heels with those five 3’s.”
Wahlert shifted momentum in the game by having a 13-5 run that lasted 4:22 in the third quarter. Wright hit a 3-pointer and Jordan Cornelius made a basket to keep the Sabers within striking distance.
Bauer also hit two free throws in the final seconds of the third quarter to keep the Sabers within a one-possession deficit.
DeWitt opened up the fourth quarter scoreless until Green hit a free throw with 3:15 remaining. In that time frame, Wahlert scored six straight points in which all came in the paint. Wahlert outscored DeWitt 24-6 in the paint in the second half.
The Sabers shot 0-for-4 in the drought, including a turnover in the Sabers’ first possession.
Marty Green hit a layup after a pair of Steffens free throws to keep the Sabers within five points with under three minutes to go.