When Westminster Christian last played Mooseheart on February 9, the Warriors trailed by 9 points after three quarters but just couldn't make the necessary shots needed to clip the Red Ramblers.
Wednesday night's regional semifinal on their home floor was like Groundhog Day for the Warriors, who found themselves down 7 entering the fourth quarter. The only question that remained was: would it be different this time? Would No. 3 seed Westminster be able to drain some clutch shots late and upset No. 2-seeded Mooseheart?
After Will Woodhouse's floater cut the deficit to 5 with 5:16 to go, the feeling in the gym was that the Warriors just might this time.
Instead, on the ensuing possession, Mooseheart's Mangisto Deng stuck a dagger 3-pointer from deep in the right wing with 4:20 left to make it an 8-point game, which helped fuel a game-ending 15-5 run as Westminster stayed cold and Makur Puou's 2-handed tomahawk slam 2 minutes later sealed a 45-30 Red Rambler win.
Westminster's season ends at 17-12 as Mooseheart takes on top-seeded Hinckley Big-Rock on Friday for the Class 1A Westminster Christian regional final at Judson University.
"It was 30-25 and we were colder than an iceberg up to that point," said Warriors coach Bruce Fircahu, whose team shot 9 of 47 from the field and made 8 3s opposed to 1 shot inside the arc. "If we just make a few more shots; they're really fortunate tonight, because we had the looks and they just didn't drop."
Woodhouse did everything he could from the perimeter to get things to fall. His 13 points on 5 of 20 shooting was just a microcosm for Westminster from the field. Although freshman Dillion Rejman helped out late in the second with 2 3-pointers, Westminster couldn't buy a basket in the fourth.
The Warriors went 2-for-12, being outscored 15-7. They were also outbreounded 37-10 while scoring no more than 9 points in a quarter.
"I think a good 3-point shooting team beats them tonight," Firchau said. "We were not a good 3-point team tonight. We were way below average."
Puou led all scorers with 15 points and 13 rebounds while Deng added 13 points, 5 boards and 3 assists as Mooseheart (19-6) started off on a 5-0 run and led 10-5 after the first 8 minutes.