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Hoops Experience “Odd” Week
Reapers Brace For Season Finale With Sandwich
By Bill Lidinsky
Last week was somewhat odd for the Plano High School varsity basketball team. Starting on Tuesday Jan. 31, the Reapers played a pretty strong game at home against Coal City but were ultimately done in by an almost perfect free throw shooting exhibition by the Coalers.
Then on Friday Feb. 3, the IHSA gave Plano a somewhat shocking regional playoff assignment in light of their ranking and geographic location.
Also on the 3rd, the Reapers played Dwight in only their first Friday night home game of the season which is quite unusual when the contest marks your 25th matchup of the year.
All three occurrences just added to the up and down, topsy-turvy campaign that the Plano hoop squad has experienced in 2005-06.
On Tuesday, Coal City sank an unbelievable 28-of-29 free throws in each of the four quarters, to go on and win 75-63. Junior guard Brett Smith was a perfect 11-of-11 from the charity strip along with a game high 26 points as the Coalers pulled off a rarity by notching a 97 percent mark at the line when attempting over 20 free throws.
Junior Obina Agomo led Plano with 19, while seniors Alex Jensen and Will Brown added 18 and 13 respectively as the Reapers were hard pressed to keep up with the Coal City “dead eye” free throw accuracy.
“It’s really amazing and a testament to the Coal City players that they were able to accomplish such a fine shooting performance from the free throw line,” said Plano head basketball coach Nate Spriggs. “When you have someone knock down 28-of-29 free throws against you, most likely you won’t win many games.”
But the Reapers would taste victory in front of their home crowd in what was only their first ballgame in 25 contests this season on a Friday night. Leading 26-12 at the half, Plano maintained a strong effort over the final 16 minutes to go on and beat Dwight 48-32.
“It’s really odd that we hadn’t played a Friday night home game until game 25. Our kids have missed the excitement and intensity that playing on a non-school night brings,” Spriggs said. “But we controlled the game in the first half and locked down defensively playing man to man and limiting them to twelve points. We never let them get closer than ten points in the second half. Nobody did anything spectacular, but it was just a great team win leading wire to wire in our first Friday night home game.”
Jensen led all scorers with 13 points along with contributing in all facets of the contest with seven rebounds, five assists, and seven steals as Plano improved their overall record to 11-14 and 5-7 in the Interstate Eight Conference.
“It seemed like everyone was in a good mood before the game being our first Friday home game. When everyone is smiling, laughing, and having fun, we play a lot better and we proved it against Dwight,” Jensen said.
Before the game against the Trojans, the Reapers received somewhat startling news that they would be assigned to the Somonauk Regional as the seventh seed on the 12 team playoffs that will start on Tuesday Feb. 21 against the No. 8 seeded hosts Bobcats. Six teams will compete at Somonauk while the other six will go to Serena. Plano had hoped to be assigned to Serena where the host Huskers are the No. 2 seed. But instead the IHSA elected to place them at Somonauk with the top ranked team in Class A Seneca along with the four seed Hinckley-Big Rock, six seed Indian Creek, and nine seed Leland. Consequently Serena will now play hosts to third seed Ottawa Marquette, fifth seed Newark, 10 seed Paw Paw, 11 seed Streator Woodland, and 12 seed Earlville.
Geographically and also in effort to maintain regional seeding balance most assumed Paw Paw would be sent to Somonauk, while Plano would go to Serena. But the IHSA saw it differently.
“I’ve tried to install in the guys all year that we wanted to get as many wins possible so that we could stay away from Seneca in the regional. Unfortunately, we left it in the hands of the IHSA and they chose to put us at Somonauk with the top ranked team in the state,” Spriggs said. “We’ll do our best in the opening round and hopefully get a win against Somonauk and then roll the dice for the third time this year against just a great basketball team. But before that we have to take care of business against our closet rival.” The Reapers next take the court at Sandwich Friday night. It will mark the fourth matchup of the year for the two clubs with the Indians grabbing game one, while Plano has captured games two and three with the last coming on Jan. 17 on the Reapers home court in a 20 point victory.
This time the Indians gym should be “rockin” as the two rivals do battle in what is a crucial game as far as confidence goes for both clubs.
“We always want to beat Sandwich. It’ll be the fourth time we’ve played them this year with us winning two of three including the last one big,” Spriggs said. “But Chris (Johnson) has them playing well so we won’t be overconfident. I’d like to send our seniors out with a final win against their biggest rival at their place in front of a full house.”
Plano 48, Dwight 32
Senior Jensen echoes his coaches sentiments.
“It’s going to be my last time playing them. I like going their too. It’s my favorite place to play on the road. Hopefully we’ll bring a lot of people just like last year and we can get out of there with a big win,” Jensen said.
BOYS BASKETBALL: Reapers roll over Trojans - Ottawa Times
At Plano, the Reapers improved to 5-7 in the Interstate Eight Conference with a home victory over the Trojans.
Plano led 15-5 after one quarter and built a 26-12 halftime advantage.
Alex Jensen led the Reapers (11-14, 5-7) with 13 points, to go along with 12 from Will Brown.
DWIGHT (32) -- Phelan 2 2-2 8, Meyers 0 2-2 2, Sancken 0 1-2 1, Thompson 0 0-0 0, Olsen 0 0-0 0, Tambling 0 0-0 0, Scheuer 1 0-0 2, Wyllie 0 0-0 0, Perschnick 4 0-2 8, Karstens 3 2-3 9, Talon 0 2-2 2. Totals 10 9-13 32.
PLANO (48) -- Agomo 2 0-0 4, Priesman 1 2-2 5, Grenn 0 0-0 0, Kebbeh 0 0-2 0, Smith 1 0-1 2, Diaz 0 0-0 0, Nelson 1 1-1 3, Campisi 0 0-0 0, Jensen 6 1-1 13, Goldsmith 1 0-0 2, Bott 2 0-0 6, Loux 0 1-2 1, Brown 5 2-6 12. Totals 19 7-16 48.
Dwight 5 7 6 14 -- 32
Plano (11-14. 5-7) 15 11 7 15 -- 48
3-point baskets -- Dwight 3 (Phelan 2, Karstens), Plano 3 (Bott 2, Priesman).
Plano 48, Dwight 32
Seneca 77, Sandwich 36
Lisle 79, Coal City 41
R. Custer 51, Wilmington 35
From Aurora Beacon
Plano 48, Dwight 32 — Alex Jensen scored 13 points, had seven rebounds, five assists and seven steals to lead Plano, while Will Brown chipped in with 12 points.