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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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