Grant Hess

Muenster senior Grant Hess shoots a three-pointer during the Hornets' home opener against Henrietta.

A pair of late free throws by a senior pushed Muenster to a statement win Tuesday night.

The Hornets boys’ basketball team defeated Henrietta 39-38 in Muenster in a battle of undefeated teams.

Muenster (5-0) kept its record perfect with the big win. The Hornets opened their season last weekend by sweeping its opponents in a tournament at Saint Jo.

Henrietta (7-1) suffered its first loss of the year despite leading for much of the second half.

Muenster coach Lynn Cook said the Hornets did a good job closing out the game.

“We had some shots fall in the second half that weren’t necessarily falling in the first half,” Cook said. “But in both halves, we had to grind to get anything. Credit to Henrietta playing really good defense. More or less, it just comes down to we had a couple shots fall in the second half that didn’t necessarily fall in the first half.”

Muenster senior Andrew Flaming drew a foul with under two minutes to play and headed to the line with the Hornets down 38-37. He hit both free throws to give Muenster a one-point lead. Henrietta failed to score again despite multiple opportunities thanks to lock-down defense from the Hornets.

Flaming said he didn’t feel any pressure at the free throw line.

“I just knew I needed to do it for my team,” Flaming said. “That was pretty much it.”

The Hornets led 19-18 at halftime, but the Bearcats opened the second half on a 6-2 run. Henrietta led by as many as 6 points, but Muenster did not go away. Senior A.J. Christopher retook the lead with a three-pointer from the left corner, putting Muenster ahead 35-34.

Henrietta responded quickly with a floater on its next possession. The Bearcats added another basket to pad the lead, but Muenster senior Eli Saucer hit a shot to bring the Hornets within a point before Flaming hit the winning free throws.

Cook said the Hornets did a great job defensively to close out the game.

“They did a great job to keep them in front of us, make them earn everything that they get,” Cook said. “A group of mainly seniors or returning starters on the floor at the very end of the game. Experience in those situations, can trust them to do what they need to do, and they did.”

Flaming led Muenster with 11 points, followed by Christopher with 8.

Cook said after opening the year at the Saint Jo tournament, the Hornets were looking forward to their home opener against a great opponent.

“We get to measure ourselves against a team that we know is really good,” Cook said. “A team that beat us by 9 last year. To me, and I hope to the guys, it tells them there really are no limits to where we can go if we’ll keep grinding and keep putting the pieces together and get better.”

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