By Matt Nestor
Prep Sports Reporter
You could look back and try to read Rockton Hononegah’s 65-62 victory over the Belvidere Bucs in multiple ways.
On one hand, Hononegah could look back with concerns over blowing an 18-point lead and giving Belvidere chances late to steal the game. On the other hand, the young Bucs could come away pleased with playing down to the wire with one of the NIC-10’s top powers.
Neither team is interested in those views.
Jacob Doyle scored 16 points, and Jack Granath scored 13 as the Indians held on for the win.
For Hononegah, it was a tough finish. The Indians turned the ball over and missed several late free-throws to let the Bucs back in. But Head Coach Mike Miller wasn’t concerned with his team’s late-game execution.
“This was a perfect game for us because we have a lot of guys that are inexperienced, and it was good to be in a situation where we were protecting a lead,” Miller said. “To win against a good team on the road and to have stuff to be able to talk about is good. It’s always good to learn and win at the same time.”
The Indians got off to a quick start in the game, as Carlos Hendrix scored 5 of his 11 early. A technical foul on Ian Carlson of Belvidere following a shooting foul also helped Hononegah jump out to a 20-7 lead after the first quarter.
Belvidere also helped the Indians in the first quarter, turning the ball over on their first six possessions. They were able to chip away at the lead, however, and only trailed by 10 at the half.
Hononegah did push their lead to 18 in the third quarter, but then Kane Steger got hot for Belvidere.
The junior knocked down two second-half threes and started driving to the basket, not only getting baskets, but setting up Quincy Canty and Quinten Canty for outside shots, helping them score 10 points each.
The Bucs were able to chip away on the lead and had it down to 4 points with just under a minute left and had the ball. But, reverting back to their first quarter miscues, a costly turnover allowed Hononegah a chance at free-throws to extend the lead.
While some around the program were proud of their performance against one of the conference’s best, the coaches and players in the locker room weren’t looking for moral victories after the game.
“We can’t turn the ball over like that,” Belvidere Head Coach Aaron Pearson said. “We know we can compete. Our goal is taking care of the ball and rebounding. If we can do those things, we can compete at the higher level.”
And teams around the NIC-10 are taking notice. That is why Miller was more relieved to pick up the road win than concerned about his team’s execution.
“Everybody around the league knows that Belvidere is the best-kept secret,” Miller said. “They have a good, bright future ahead of them.”
In other NIC-10 action:
• It was a light weekend for conference games, with only four games scheduled on the weekend. But Freeport took advantage of the one they had, topping Rockford East 47-44. Devin Best led the way for the Pretzels with 17 points, but they also got a pick-up from a returning Quavion Scott, who scored 9 and grabbed several key rebounds.
• Rockford Boylan Catholic Head Coach Mike Winters picked up his 200th win as the Titans topped Rockford Guilford 61-52 behind 24 points from Ben Grygiel. Juwan Hubbard continued to lead the way for the Vikings, pouring in 25 points.
• Rockford Auburn stayed undefeated, pushing past Rockford Jefferson for a 65-53 victory. Jaylin Marshall scored 15, while LaMark Foote and Fred Van Vleet scored 13 points for Auburn. A night after scoring 18 points to lead Jefferson, senior LT Davis scored another 11 in a 62-28 win in a non-conference game against Cary Grove.
From the Dec. 14-20, 2011, issue