CLINTON — Seniors never want to lose the last game of their high school careers on their home floor. The Prince of Peace Irish did on Thursday, losing to Tri-Rivers foe Midland 66-52 at Central Catholic Auditorium.
“It’s a shame for the seniors to go out that way,” Irish coach Gerry Murphy said. “They are a super group, and I’m really going to miss them. It’s a teary-eyed locker room in there.”
Prince of Peace (10-11) did hold a first-quarter lead, but once Midland started attacking the Irish in the paint, things went downhill for the home team.
“We lost momentum there in the second quarter, and they took it to us,” Murphy said. “We had to battle back for the next three quarters, but they kept up with us, and answered every time we tried to make a run.”
Midland (9-13) held the Irish to four points in the second quarter while scoring 15. Ben Carstensen scored eight points alone, while Colton Dirks sank a late 3-pointer near the top of the arc.
“They came in and really played tough,” Murphy said. “Give them credit; they were the better team tonight.”
Murphy said the Irish defense did a nice job shutting down Midland guard Connor Harms, but he admitted that the defense was far from perfect.
“They got the ball into Carstenson, and he had a great game,” he said. “They hit some timely shots; we kept battling, but the effort was there.”
One senior ending his career on Thursday was Nic Roth, and the feeling was a rough yet simple one after the game.
“It really sucks losing in front of the home fans,” he said. “We didn’t execute at all tonight, and when we tried to fight back, it was too big of a hole.
“It felt like we couldn’t hit anything, especially from outside,” Roth added. “It didn’t feel like we had any 3-pointers (they hit three, all in the fourth quarter), and it just wasn’t enough.”
The spot where Roth believed things took a turn for the worse was in the final minute of the third quarter where Midland got two layups.
“That really hurt,” Roth said. “We thought we were in reach, but they built the lead back up to 13.”
Roth ended his high school playing career with a 23-point, 14-rebound performance. He is seeking opportunities to play at the collegiate level. Coe College and Kirkwood Community College have shown interest.
The Irish lose four seniors — Roth, Lucas Laufenberg, AJ Williams and Caleb Kitteringham. Roth said not being able to play with those guys anymore competitively was going to be the hardest thing moving forward.
“Caleb, Lucas and I have all been playing together since the fourth grade,” Roth said. “AJ came on as a sophomore, and he has improved in mountainous ways from then to his senior season.”
It was the third meeting between the Eagles and the Irish. Midland won at home on Dec. 10, but the Irish beat Midland 63-42 on Jan. 21 at CCA.
MIDLAND 66. PRINCE OF PEACE 52
MIDLAND (9-13) — Connor Harms 2 1-2 5, Brandon Dirks 1 0-0 2, Ben Carstensen 9 3-5 21, Alex Martens 1 0-0 2, Dalton Harms 8 1-3 18, Hagan Ackley 0 2-2 2, Trace Jensen 0 0-0 0, Colton Dirks 6 2-2 16. Totals 27 9-14 66.
PRINCE OF PEACE (10-11) — Quin Schnier 1 1-2 3, Lucas Laufenberg 3 3-5 10, AJ Williams 1 0-0 3, Caleb Kitteringham 2 0-2 4, Nic Roth 11 1-2 23, Seth Moeller 3 0-0 6, Andrey Drury 0 0-0 0, Will Andresen 1 0-0 3. Totals 22 5-14 52.
Midland 14 15 17 20 — 66
Pr. of Peace 13 4 14 21 — 52
3-point goals — Midland 3 (C. Dirks 2, Harms); Prince of Peace 3 (Williams, Laufenberg, Andresen). Total fouls — Midland 13, Prince of Peace 16. Fouled out — Kitteringham.