OTTAWA — At the close of the first quarter of their Dean Riley "Shootin' the Rock" Tournament fifth-place game against the Marengo Indians, the Streator Bulldogs were shooting 46.7 percent from the field with zero turnovers and held a one-point lead.
At halftime, Streator's boys were shooting 36.7 percent for the game, had only three giveaways and maintained a two-point advantage.
Things, by and large, were going well for the SHS offense ... and then the second half happened.
The Bulldogs shot 8.3 percent (2-of-24) from the field in the third and fourth quarters, didn't manage a second-half field goal until 3 minutes, 7 seconds had ticked away in the fourth quarter and despite their defense keeping them in it saw the game slowly spiral out of reach point by point here at Kingman Gym in a 39-29 loss to the Indians.
"I just don't think we made any shots the second half. They did a good job defensively, but when you don't make any shots — two in the second half — that's what's going to happen," said Bulldogs coach Beau Doty.
"(Marengo) tried to press for tempo today, they didn't try to trap us too hard, and I thought early we were getting good shots ... but I thought our shooters also passed up some open shots. In a game where you're not shooting the ball well and it's a possession game, when you get open looks you've got to take them and you've got to make them. I don't think we had the appropriate sense of urgency at times. ... We had our chances, we just didn't make enough shots.
"We've had some ups and downs in this tournament, and I think today was a step back, as we'd been trending in an upward direction."
Streator (1-3) was definitely trending upward at the start of things Saturday. SHS followed up its initial win of the season the previous day with a solid opening quarter against Marengo (2-2), one which saw the 'Dogs rally behind efficient offensive play to take a 15-14 lead on a Joey Byers stall-and-take layup at the buzzer.
The Bulldogs weren't quite as crisp in the second stanza, but by quarter's end led 24-22 with all five starters in the scorebook — center Wes Jolly with nine points, three guards/small forwards John Benckendorf and Noah Mascal with seven and four points, respectively, and both Byers and fellow guard Mitch Vickers with two points.
Then, be it adjustments by both defenses or just plain cooling off during the intermission, the entire game changed in the second half. Both teams struggled to score, with Marengo managing seven third-quarter points and Streator getting only one free throw from Jolly. When Mascal cut to the basket for a lay-in with 4:53 remaining — Streator's first field goal of the second half — the Bulldogs were behind only 31-27, but even that four-point hole looked like a deep chasm the way they were shooting.
"(Streator) made their adjustments defensively, and we took a little bit too long to adjust back offensively to get ourselves going," Marengo coach Nate Wright said. "But the key to that was us on the defensive end doing our job.
"The first half No. 33 (Jolly) killed us with his touch around the rim ... so we adjusted there and kept him going the opposite direction, and obviously Streator struggled shooting in the second half and we controlled the boards."
In a low-scoring game, Marengo senior Matt Fischer's 12 points and Jolly's 10 points led the way. Benckendorf added seven rebounds to his seven points, with Mascal finishing with six points and nine rebounds as Streator was outshot 30.4-24.1 percent and outrebounded 40-31.
At Kingman Gym, Ottawa
Marengo 39, Streator 29
(Key: FG-FGA FT-FTA TP)
STREATOR (29) — Vickers 2-16 0-2 4, Byers 1-9 0-0 2, Benckendorf 3-8 0-1 7, N. Mascal 3-10 0-0 6, Jolly 4-8 2-4 10, Telford 0-2 0-0 0, Groesbeck 0-0 0-0 0, Cantrell 0-0 0-0 0, G. Mascal 0-1 0-0 0, Diaz 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 13-54 2-7 29.
MARENGO (39) — Bohart 2-7 0-1 5, Fischer 4-5 1-2 12, Kirchner 2-8 0-0 6, Schirmer 4-10 1-3 9, Rodriguez 2-7 0-0 4, Bertrand 0-5 2-2 2, LaSota 0-1 1-2 1, Shambo 0-1 0-1 0, Wascher 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 14-46 5-11 39.
Streator (1-3) 15 9 1 4 — 29
Marengo (2-2) 14 8 7 10 — 39
3-point goals - Streator 1-17 (Benckendorf 1-5, Telford 0-1, G. Mascal 0-1, Byers 0-2, Vickers 0-3, N. Mascal 0-5); Marengo 6-16 (Fischer 3-4, Kirchner 2-6, Bohart 1-3, Bertand 0-1, Wascher 0-2). Rebounds - Streator 31 (N. Mascal 9, Benckendorf 7); Marengo 40 (Schirmer 12, Bohart 8). Assists - Streator 8 (Vickers 2, Byers 2, Benckendorf 2, N. Mascal 2); Marengo 9 (Bohart 3). Steals - Streator 8 (Vickers 2, Byers 2); Marengo 2 (two players with 1). Blocked shots - Streator 0; Marengo 5 (Rodriguez 3). Turnovers - Streator 8; Marengo 12. Total fouls (none fouled out) - Streator 16; Marengo 13
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OTTAWA — Streator Bulldogs head coach Beau Doty and his staff emphasized ball reversal and rebounding heading into their matchup against the Yorkville Foxes on Friday afternoon.
Executing those phases of the game well — in particular during the initial 16 minutes of action — resulted in a reversal of outcome for Streator from its previous two contests.
The Bulldogs converted 59.4 percent of their shots from the floor (19 of 32 — 11 of those makes assisted), which included going 7-for-11 from 3-point range, and were plus-15 on the boards as they beat Yorkville 58-39 in their Pool B finale of the Dean Riley "Shootin' the Rock" Thanksgiving Tournament at Kingman Gym.
"I thought everyone really stepped up," said 6-foot-4, 210-pound Streator senior center Wes Jolly, who posted a double-double, scoring 14 points and grabbing 12 rebounds (four offensive). "We were able to keep the heat on them and not let up.
"We were able to flow into what worked for us (offensively) and what we're used to and take the shots we need that would allow us to get ahead and stay ahead."
Streator led 16-11 after one quarter of play and built a 20-point halftime advantage (35-15) behind 10 points from Jolly, along with eight and seven, respectively, by Mitch Vickers and Hunter Telford. In that first half, the Bulldogs went 13-of-18 from the field (72.2 percent) — 5-for-6 from long distance — and held a plus-15 margin in rebounds (20-5).
"It was good," said Doty of the 'Dogs' offensive execution. "You know, we tried to emphasize getting the ball reversed; I thought we were playing way too one-sided the first two games. And (Yorkville coach) Mike (Dunn) does a great job putting pressure on the ball and trying to keep you on one side of the floor, and I thought for the most part we did a good job (against that). And we were able to make some shots today, too, and I think part of it was our shot selection was better. We got some rhythm 3s.
"One of our (other) points of emphasis was pounding the glass on both ends. You know, we had the size advantage to begin with, and it helped when (6-3 Javell) Moore (Yorkville's biggest player) got two fouls. Wes was really aggressive early (Jolly had a pair of stickbacks a little more than three minutes in). He looked like the Wes that ... can be dominant inside."
The Foxes outpointed Streator 24-23 after the break, although John Benckendorf (12 points on four 3-pointers) knocked down a couple of 3s during the third period and Joey Byers (six assists) hit 7-of-8 free throws in the final quarter for the Bulldogs.
Noah Mascal (10 points) also scored in double figures for Streator.
"I was pleased to see us bounce back (from the opening two losses earlier in the week); it was nice to see our kids regroup," Doty said. "Hopefully, we can use this and continue to build off it."
"Streator outplayed, outworked, outcoached everything that we did today," Dunn said. "They hit shots, and, you know, I mean, we missed a lot of bunnies (the Foxes missed 34 of their 47 field-goal attempts); we've got to make our layups and free throws (11 of 22) ... (but), I mean, give them all the credit; they played very well."
Lightning-quick guard Christian Payne had a game-high 15 points and four steals for Yorkville (1-2).
The Bulldogs (1-2) will face Marengo today at 2:30 p.m. in the tourney's fifth-place game.
At Kingman Gym, Ottawa
Streator 58, Yorkville 39
(Key: FG-FGA FT-FTA TP)
YORKVILLE (39) -- Polowy 0-2 2-4 2, Glass 0-3 1-2 1, Moore 3-5 2-4 8, Corrigan 2-4 0-0 5, Payne 5-17 4-9 15, Eberhart 0-1 0-0 0, Habada 0-3 0-0 0, Klaas 2-7 2-3 6, Reichert 0-2 0-0 0, Ramos 0-0 0-0 0, Heriaud 1-3 0-0 2, Assell 0-0 0-0 0, Slavin 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 13-47 11-22 39.
STREATOR (58) -- Vickers 2-6 2-2 8, Byers 0-1 7-10 7, Benckendorf 4-8 0-0 12, N. Mascal 5-5 0-1 10, Jolly 5-7 4-5 14, Colter 0-0 0-0 0, Cantrell 0-2 0-0 0, Diaz 0-0 0-0 0, Groesbeck 0-0 0-0 0, Telford 3-3 0-0 7, Jordan 0-0 0-0 0, Ramon 0-0 0-0 0, G. Mascal 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 19-32 13-18 58.
Yorkville (1-2) 11 4 9 15 — 39
Streator (1-2) 16 19 8 15 — 58
3-point goals — Yorkville 2-15 (Corrigan 1-3, Payne 1-4, Glass 0-1, Eberhart 0-1, Habada 0-2, Klaas 0-2, Reichert 0-2); Streator 7-11 (Benckendorf 4-5, Vickers 2-3, Telford 1-1, Cantrell 0-2). Rebounds — Yorkville 19 (Payne 4); Streator 34 (Jolly 12). Assists — Yorkville 7 (Payne 2); Streator 11 (Byers 6). Steals — Yorkville 12 (Polowy 4, Payne 4); Streator 4 (Benckendorf 2). Blocked shots — Yorkville 1 (Glass 1); Streator 2 (Vickers 1, Jolly 1). Turnovers — Yorkville 9; Streator 19. Total fouls (fouled out) — Yorkville 21 (Polowy); Streator 17.
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Here is The 2017-18 Times Preseason All-Area Boys Basketball Team, as voted on earlier this week by The Times Sports staff:
Jeremy Durdan (Jr., Flanagan-Cornell)
Wyatt Hill (Jr., Ottawa)
Dylan Patrick (Sr., Newark)
Jimmy Braddish (Jr., Sandwich)
Kyle Voytko (Jr., Woodland)
Jakob Setchell (Jr., Serena)
Jack Snook (Jr., Marquette)
Collin Hjerpe (Jr., Woodland)
Mitch Vickers (Sr., Streator)
Derek May (Jr., Fieldcrest)
Cam Grandy (Sr., Fieldcrest)
Dawson Fuller (Sr., Serena)
Wes Jolly (Sr., Streator)
Sam Grushkin (Jr., Seneca)
Beau Brown (Jr., Newark)
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The briefest of glances at the schedule which runs alongside this season preview will reveal the Streator Bulldogs' 2017-18 boys basketball season will get underway next week in Ottawa's Dean Riley "Shootin' the Rock" Tournament.
A look at the roster or a few moments spent talking with ninth-year head coach Beau Doty (116-111 career record) will reveal, however, that the success of the 2017-18 Bulldogs starts with the seniors — most notably returning starters Wes Jolly, John Benckendorf, Mitch Vickers and Joey Byers along with fellow 12th-grader and likely fifth starter this year Noah Mascal.
"We're really leaning on our veteran group," said Doty, whose Bulldogs last winter posted a winning, albeit at times frustrating 16-12 mark. "We've got six seniors who have had some varsity experience since their sophomore year, and three guys who have been starters on and off since their sophomore year.
"We're really looking to those guys for leadership, to establish an edge and a tone of competitiveness at practice each and every day and to show those juniors who are getting that varsity experience for the first time how to go about it. That's something we're counting on our seniors to do, and hopefully they can deliver on that for us."
The Bulldogs' all-senior starting five comes in with plenty of experience and talent as it looks to fill the shoes of three standouts — D'Angelo Pryor, Dakota Limberg and Adam Brown — gone to Pomp and Circumstance.
Vickers (8.7 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 1.2 spg in 2016-17) can handle the ball and create good looks at the basket seemingly at will; Byers (3.1 ppg, 1.7 rpg) is a versatile, high-energy sparkplug; Benckendorf (5.6 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 1.9 apg) brings both muscle to the paint and a good if streaky shooting touch to the perimeter; all indications are the 6-4 Jolly (3.4 ppg, 2.5 rpg) is poised for a breakout senior season; and Noah Mascal (1.5 ppg, 1.0 rpg), also standing 6-4, seems ready for a starting nod after appearing in 22 games last season.
After a couple seasons filled with ups and downs, Doty expects this group's play — through experience and offseason work — to be more steady its last go-round in the Red and White, especially with potentially potent weapons both inside and out.
"It should be a group that's pretty consistent," he said. "This is one of our bigger teams as far as size goes with lineups we can potentially put out there with both size and strength. I think that'll be one of our strengths, playing through the interior a little bit, and I think we could be a load for some teams on the boards. ...
"You complement that with Joey's ability to slash and get in the paint, Mitch being one of the better guards in the league with great athleticism and anticipation on defense and the ability to get hot on the perimeter or get in the lane and finish, and Johnny's knack for offensive boards and (ability to shoot) the 3."
With the first five all but set, the rest of the roster — which includes seniors Hunter Telford (1.1 ppg last season), Coltin Grace (0.8 ppg), Jared Groesbeck and Kyle Cantrell as well as 11th-graders Logan Colter, Grant Mascal, Chase Ramon, Terrence Jordan and Ruben Diaz — is competing for roles and floor time. That process has made practices this preseason interesting, and according to Doty could prove to be the key to the Bulldogs' season.
"Hopefully we can get some other guys to help contribute and increase our depth," said Doty. "We know what we've got with our returning guys. It's just a matter of how deep we'll be able to go, and I think that's part of the reason practices have been so competitive."
After the tournament in Ottawa, highlights on SHS's schedule include the December 2 Pops Dale Gymnsium opener against Putnam County, the Plano Christmas Classic December 26-30, home against La Salle-Peru on January 9 and a visit to another old NCIC rival, Ottawa, on February 20.
"I told our kids, our goals haven't changed from what they've been the last few years," Doty said. "That's to compete for a conference title, win 20 games and put ourselves in a position with a good seed to compete for a regional championship."
No. Player Pos. Ht. Yr.
1 Logan Colter G 6-0 Jr.
2 Kyle Cantrell G 5-10 Sr.
3 Mitch Vickers G 6-1 Sr.
4 Joey Byers G/F 6-2 Sr.
5 Ruben Diaz G 5-8 Jr.
10 John Benckendorf F 6-2 Sr.
12 Jared Groesbeck F 6-0 Sr.
13 Hunter Telford G 5-8 Sr.
20 Terrence Jordan G 5-11 Jr.
21 Coltin Grace F/C 6-4 Sr.
22 Noah Mascal F 6-4 Sr.
24 Chase Ramon G 6-1 Jr.
33 Wes Jolly C 6-4 Sr.
55 Grant Mascal F/C 6-4 Jr.
Date Opponent/Event Time
11/20-25 at Ottawa Riley Tourney TBA*
12/1 at Seneca 7 p.m.
12/2 PUTNAM CO. 6 p.m.
12/5 at Morris 7 p.m.
12/8 MANTENO 7 p.m.
12/15 at Reed-Custer 7 p.m.
12/26-30 at Plano Classic TBD
1/5 LISLE 7 p.m.
1/9 LA SALLE-PERU 7 p.m.
1/12 at Herscher 7 p.m.
1/13 ST. BEDE 6:30 p.m.
1/16 WILMINGTON 7 p.m.
1/19-26 at I-8 Tourney (Coal City) TBD
2/2 PLANO 7 p.m.
2/6 WESTMONT 7 p.m.
2/9 at Peotone 7 p.m.
2/16 at Sandwich 7 p.m.
2/20 at Ottawa 7 p.m.
2/23 at Coal City 7 p.m.
* Thanksgiving schedules
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Phil Chapman is an avid basketball fan that has served as the voice of the Newark Norsemen over the last three seasons. Phil will be broadcasting the games at the Plano Christmas Classic