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Two Straight Wins, Plano Loses Big To H-BR
Reapers Limp In As Hosts Of Hoop Tourney
By Bill Lidinsky- Plano Record
This wasn’t the scenario Plano High School head varsity basketball coach Nate Spriggs had hoped for going into this weeks 43rd annual Reaper Christmas Classic hoop tournament.
After two straight victories over Dwight and Somonauk, Spriggs wanted to build some momentum as the “Classic” hosts with a third straight win over Little Ten Conference opponent Hinckley-Big Rock last Tuesday Dec. 20. But the tough visitors from H-BR had other ideas as they used a huge second quarter to help eliminate Plano’s thoughts of entering their own tournament on a high note. The Royals would end up downing the depleted Reapers in easy fashion 59-44.
The game however started off very well for Plano as they played some tremendous defense in the first quarter and trailed by only a 12-11 margin after the opening period of play. Reaper senior guard Alex Jensen had nine of the first 11 Plano points as the home team looked to be playing inspired defensively.
“In the first quarter we played extremely well defensively. We held them to a couple of 45 second possessions and I really believed it was going to be a great game for us,” Jensen said. “But for some reason starting in the second quarter things started to break down with a lot of turnovers offensively. Then we stopped playing the strong defense we had just been successful with. It was a very frustrating game.”
Frustration being the key word for the Reapers in the second quarter as they were outscored by the Royals 22-11 and trailed 34-22 going into the locker room at the half.
“We exerted a lot of energy in the first quarter with some great defense but we just couldn’t sustain that for more than eight minutes,” Spriggs said. “Hinckley is very athletic and very fundamentally sound. When you turn the ball over offensively as much as we did in the second quarter against a team as good as they are, bad things tend to happen.”
Plano played the third and fourth quarters fairly evenly with H-BR, but they didn’t have enough firepower to make up the 12 point halftime deficit and went on to lose by 15.
Jensen led all scorers with 23 points on 10 of 18 shooting from the field and three long three-point baskets. He also hauled down 10 rebounds along with five assists and four steals. Reaper senior Matt Priesman was the only other Plano player who scored in double figures with 10 points. But it was the standout play of Jensen that allowed the Reapers to stay in the ballgame.
“We knew Jensen would get his points but we tried to limit his effectiveness by putting one of our best defensive players in Jake Austin on him,” said H-BR head basketball coach Bill Sambrookes. “But he still hit some big time long range three-pointers and got a lot of rebounds. Jensen’s got some tremendous range, such strong legs, and he jumps so well. He’s just a great athlete. We’re fortunate that no one else got hot for Plano and we were able to get a victory going into the Christmas Classic.”
With the loss, Plano falls to 4-7 overall while Hinckley moves to 6-4. The Reapers enter the “Classic” as the twelfth overall seed in the 16 team field and face the No. 5 seed Ottawa-Marquette in opening round play Tuesday evening.
The Crusaders are no strangers to Plano. Last season Marquette defeated the Reapers for third place in the 2004 Classic. But a couple of months later Plano knocked off the Crusaders to win the 2005 Regional Championship on their home court.
This year however Marquette has lost only two ballgames and has a distinct size advantage over Plano. As mentioned earlier, the Reapers are depleted in terms of manpower. Two key players will be unavailable for the tournament. Junior starter Obina Agomo will sit out the week to comply with the IHSA eligibility requirement while senior Jake Wilson has left the team due to “burnout” from the long football season. Add to that the uncertainty regarding the availability of junior sixth man Brook Bott due to knee tendentious and Plano has a team that may be missing half of its six key performers that were to be counted on this year.
“We’ll continue to work with the guys we do have available. Brook’s knees are always day to day and we won’t have Obina. But we’ve got to focus on the people we do have for the four games in the “Classic” coming up and we need to start turning this thing around,” Spriggs said.
Win or lose in round one the Reapers will face either #4 seed Aurora Central Catholic or #14 seed Bureau Valley in the second round. If Plano beats Marquette they will play at 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday. If they lost they would compete at 2 p.m. Wednesday afternoon.
Undefeated and top ranked Interstate Eight Conference opponent Seneca drew the No. 1 seed in the Classic, while Little Ten Conference power Serena grabbed the No. 2 seed. Spring Valley Hall got the No. 3 seeding while ACC and Marquette filled in at four and five.
You can get up to the minute scores and results from the Christmas Classic by logging onto www.rockcreekball.com. The tournament runs for four days with the championship game scheduled for Friday night at 8:00 p.m. WSPY 1710 A.M. radio will also carry the majority of the contests live with play by play man Jim Teckenbrock on the call.
“We ultimately want to play feature games in this tournament. To do so we need to win our first contest to advance to the winners side of the brackets as we did last season,” Spriggs said. “We’re still searching to find an identity. We can play so well at times, but we really lack post play because of our lack of size. Al, Matt, and Will Brown definitely carry the load. But we’ll need more than that if we’re going to be able to achieve the success we did in the tournament last season. We need some other guys to step up and contribute and that will be the key if we’re to succeed again this year.”
PLANO — Give a coach a choice between one of his players burning the nets and getting balanced scoring from several players, any coach would choose the latter.
Joe Jenness had 19 points to lead three teammates in double figures as Hinckley-Big Rock shut down Plano and Alex Jensen 59-44.
In a tuneup for next week's Plano Christmas Classic on the same floor, the Royals improved to 6-4 in the non-conference tussle.
H-BR took control with a 12-2 run to start the second quarter. Jenness started the period by scoring on a fast break. Kevin Korth knocked down two free throws. Then Eric Oros (14 points) got his own rebound, scored and converted a three-point play. He added another bucket two possessions later on an entry from Jenness. And when Oros missed the ensuing free throw, Jenness tipped it back in for the four-point play, giving Hinckley-Big Rock a 24-13 lead.
"I thought we moved the ball well and, when we were patient, we ran the offense well," said H-BR coach Bill Sambrookes. "We run a four-out, one-in offense to get movement, and I'm finally getting the guys to believe that if you work the offense, scoring opportunities will come."
After Jenness and Tyler Naumann connected on 3-pointers in the last two minutes of the first half for H-BR for a 34-22 cushion, the Reapers never got the lead to single digits the rest of the way.
While the Royals were spreading the wealth, Jensen was pretty much the only scoring option for Plano, especially in the first half. While he had 14 points before intermission (23 for the game, along with eight boards), four of his mates scored only two points apiece.
"We ask a lot out of Alex and Matt Priesman," said Plano coach Nate Spriggs. "You can only expect so much out of them. We needed somebody else to show up offensively. We worked all last week to get Will (Brown) and our bigs touches so we'd get a higher field goal percentage and open up the outside shots, but we were passive inside tonight."
Both teams shot a similar percentage from the field in the first half, but the difference was that Plano committed nine turnovers to three for Hinckley-Big Rock. The result was that the Royals got eight more shots and four more baskets.
"Three turnovers in the first half is pretty good," noted Sambrookes. "A week ago against Oregon, we had 30 turnovers (for the game)."
The Reapers (4-7) made a little noise with a 7-0 run midway through the third quarter to pull within 39-29 on a 3-pointer by Priesman (10 points) and baskets by Brown and Jensen.
The Royals brought that streak to a quick halt. (Jake Austin) took a pretty bounce pass from Jenness and converted a three-point play. Then Naumann and Jenness stroked 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions, and all of a sudden the Royals had their largest lead at 48-29.
Oros compensated for the loss of center Matt Koehling with good work in the low post. He made six of his nine shots from the field and pulled down eight rebounds. Sambrookes hopes that Koehling will be ready for the Plano tournament next week.
Naumann made four of his shots, all from behind the arc, to finish with 12 points for Hinckley-Big Rock.
Boys Basketball: H-BR 59, Plano 44
From Ottawa Daily Times
Hinckley-Big Rock 59, Plano 44
At Hinckley, the Reapers dropped a non-conference contest to the host Royals.
H-BR only led 12-11 after one quarter, but outscored Plano 22-12 in the second quarter to extends its advantage 34-22 at the half. The Royals then outscored the Reapers 25-22 in the second half.
Alex Jensen led Plano with 23 points and 10 rebounds. Matt Priesman added 10.
PLANO (44) -- Campisi 0 0-0 0, Green 0 0-0 0, Priesman 4 0-0 10, Jensen 10 0-3 23, Brown 2 2-4 4, Nelson 1 1-2 3, Goldsmith 0 0-0 0, Smith 1 0-0 2. Totals 18 3-7 44.
H-BR (59) -- Korth 2 2-2 6, Oros 6 2-6 14, Jenness 7 2-2 19, Naumann 4 0-0 12, Rooney 2 1-1 5, Austin 1 0-0 3. Totals 22 7-11 59. Plano 11 11 13 9 -- 44
H-BR 12 22 14 11 -- 59
3-point baskets -- Plano 5 (Jensen 3, Priesman 2), H-BR 8 (Naumann 4, Jenness 3, Austin).