Prairie Fire Comeback Late To Defeat Blue Jays 89-84

Picture by 	Eryka Wanyonyi
Picture by Eryka Wanyonyi

Fulton, MO 12/3/2022- The Westminster College men's basketball team welcomed Knox College to the Historic Gym late Saturday afternoon for their second home game of the season. The Blue Jays lead most of the game and looked to be on their way to their second straight win after taking a sixteen-point lead, 69-53 with 11:45 left to play. The Prairie Fire would begin a full-court press and go on a 19 -5 run in the next four minutes of game time to tie the game 76-76. Knox would win the game 89-84 and improve to 2-6 on the season. The Blue Jays fall to 1-6.

Caleb Maassen (Linn, Missouri/Linn) got things started with a three from the top of the three-point arc to give the Blue Jays a 3-0 lead. Maassen is coming off a big game on Thursday night and stayed hot to start the game on Saturday. Makygh Galbreath (Fulton, MO/ Fulton) would get a steal that led to an easy layup by Brennan Jeffries (Jefferson City, MO/Jefferson City). Jeffries would return the favor by getting a steal of his own that led to a Galbreath three-pointer to put the Jays up 8-4 early in the first half and setting the tone of the game. Westminster would extend the lead to 14-6 with 14:10 left to play in the first half. Knox would make three straight three-pointers to put them right back in the game at 16-15, with 12:28 remaining in the first half. Kaden Eirhart (Altamont, IL / Altamont) would check into the game off the bench and take the game over. He would score thirteen of the Blue Jays' next sixteen points, scoring a layup, three three-pointers, and two free throws to give the Jays a 35-27 lead with 5:27 left in the half. Galbreath would hit three with eighteen seconds left in the half to put Westminster up 46-34. Knox would score a basket at the buzzer and get a foul call on the shot. They would miss the free throw and head to the locker room down 46-36.

Both teams would trade baskets and free throws to start the second half of play with the Blue Jay lead hanging around ten points. Jaxon Althaus (Oak Grove, MO/ Oak Grove) would score a basket and be fouled on the shot. He would make the free throw to put the Jays up 60-47 with 16:47 to play. The Blue Jays would get their largest lead of the game after an offensive rebound put back by Tre Kempker (Eugene, MO/Eugene) to put his team up sixteen points, 69-53 with 11:45 to play. Kempker would score another layup to make it 71-55. He was fouled on the shot but would miss the free throw. The Prairie Fire would make a layup of their own to make it 71-57 and they would call timeout with 10:21 left.

After the timeout, Knox would apply a lot of pressure on the Blue Jays, putting on a full-court press to get back into the game. They would force the Blue Jays to turn the ball over and not allow them to score. The Prairie Fire would go on a 19-5 run to take the lead 77-76 with 6:32 left in the game. The Blue Jays would call a timeout of their own to talk things over and settle down. Westminster would commit a foul after the timeout and send Knox to the free-throw line. They would make both free throws to take a 79-76 lead. Coby Williams (Versailles, Mo. / Morgan County R-2) stepped to the line with 5:47 left and he would make a pair of free throws, the first points by the Blue Jays since the 7:44 mark, putting the Blue Jays down one point.

Knox would hit a three-pointer with 3:03 remaining to extend their lead to 84-80. The game would turn into a free throw battle and the Prairie Fire comeback to win the game 89-84.

Kempker would have a big game, scoring 23 points and hauling in 11 rebounds. Eirhart ended up having 16 points off the bench, and Althaus had 14 points. He would go 8-8 from the free-throw line. Galbreath would score 13 points as well.

The Blue Jays will be back in action on Saturday, December 10th when they hit the road to take on Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa. That game will tip off at 3:00 PM.