Prep basketball: Belvidere makes second statement win
By Matt Nestor
Prep Sports Reporter
The trick for Belvidere Head Coach Aaron Pearson was to get his team past a big win over Rockford Boylan Catholic.
The Belvidere Bucs beat the Titans for the first time since 1988. Their reward for such a big victory was a rescheduled, early-week matchup at fellow NIC-10 first-place foe Rockford Auburn.
Eleven first-half turnovers slowed the Bucs’ efforts, but cutting that number to only three in the second half, as well as 17 points from Maurice Jackson, helped the Bucs race to a 62-46 victory over the Knights.
“This is a big win,” Pearson said. “We talked about if we wanted to be one of the better teams in the conference, we had to beat the best.”
Turnovers and poor shooting plagued the Bucs early. But Kane Steger scored 12 first-half points to offset a hot start from Auburn’s Laytwan Porter and help lead his team to a 1-point halftime lead.
While the offensive end was not kind early to Belvidere, the Bucs did the job on the defensive end. They crashed the boards, led by Joe Beyers’ 12 rebounds, and defended strong, holding Tremel Rideout and Phil Trammell to a combined 10 points for the game.
“We’re starting to take every possession serious,” Pearson said. “I was happy with the rebounding and the defense. We stressed if we could limit them to one shot and make the extra pass, the lanes were open to score.”
Beyers’ work on the boards was key. Despite shooting 1-9 in the first half, Beyers finished with 10 points, as did senior Zach Wallace. But with his shot not falling, Beyers focused on doing other things to help the team.
“I haven’t shot as many 3-pointers this year,” he said. “So, I’ve had to rely on getting offensive rebounds, and that helps the team.”
The star of the game, however, was Jackson. After picking up two early fouls, Pearson decided to gamble by putting his point guard back in the lineup in the second quarter during a tight game. Jackson responded by taking over.
“We want the ball in his hands. When he is on, our team goes,” Pearson said. “We’ve been telling him to take care of the ball every possession and make the easy pass. Tonight, he really grew up.”
Beyers said they never doubted him after the early fouls. He also said there was no doubt he would take over when the team was struggling early.
“I’ve been playing with him a long time,” he said. “I trust him all the time; he’s our floor general.”
Auburn bounces back against Boylan
For Auburn and Boylan, the stakes were simple. With both teams missing three key players, the winner could stay a game behind Belvidere and Rockford East, who had knocked off Machesney Park Harlem to stay tied in first place in the NIC-10.
The loser of the game would find themselves two games out of first, hoping not to fall behind more while they wanted for players to return.
Brock Stull and DeMarcus Vines had appeared to take control of the game early in the fourth quarter, and Boylan looked headed to a huge road win. But Tremel Rideout and the Knights crashed the boards and caused turnovers, as they stormed back to claim a 65-57 win over the Titans.
“In a long conference race, that’s really all that is important is that we continue to be one behind the top,” Auburn Head Coach Bryan Ott said. “If you’re going to be in the conference race at the end, it’s imperative you defend the home court against the other teams at the top.”
Rideout led the way for Auburn with 16 points, most of which came on offensive rebounds and after star sophomore Laytwan Porter fouled out.
The Titans had their chances down the stretch, but couldn’t come up with plays. They shot 8-21 from the free-throw line, while failing to pick up two key rebounds in the final minute on Auburn missed free throws.
Contrell Curry scored 4 of his 7 points late for Auburn on putbacks following two separate misses on Knights free-throws.
“It’s surprising, especially how poor we did defensive rebounding,” Ott said. “But those were critical.”
From the Jan. 16-22, 2013, issue
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