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Defense deserts Plano
Reapers Struggle to Defend in Two Lopsided Losses

By Bill Lindsky-Plano Record

Just when Plano High School head basketball coach Nate Spriggs thought the 2005-06 season was starting to turn around for his Reaper hoop squad, he and his team were given a reality check in the form of two straight lopsided losses last week.

Going into the Tuesday Jan. 3 contest at home against Lisle, Plano was riding high with three straight victories all during the Plano Christmas Classic right before the New Year. The Reapers had looked extremely solid in consecutive victories over Aurora Central Catholic, Coal City, and Sandwich to capture the consolation championship in the event.

But against the Lions on Tuesday in a 73-49 shellacking and then at Coal City on Friday Jan. 6 losing 64-46, Plano looked uninspired defensively and out of sync offensively as they completely lost the momentum they had achieved moving forward the previous week in the “Classic”.

“Right now we’re not focused on what needs to get done to gain victories. And I feel that’s amazing considering how well we played in the Christmas Classic,” Spriggs said. “Against Lisle and Coal City they put a lot of pressure on us and we chose not to react. We buckled when the heat got turned up in these two games. The bottom line is if you don’t defend you won’t win a lot of ballgames. And we didn’t defend at all and we got absolutely humiliated in the process by a very good Lisle team, but also by a team we beat just a week ago.”

On Tuesday at home the Reapers led once at 5-3 but then the Lions poured on the offensive pressure. Lisle scored 18 points in the first quarter and 23 in the second as they consistently tallied easy baskets off transition and off a lackluster Plano defensive effort. The Lions took a 41-26 advantage into halftime.
Not much better in the third period as Lisle notched 20 more points to grab a 61-41 lead after 24 minutes. From there the game was all but over and in frustration, Spriggs sat his starters for almost the whole fourth quarter as the Reapers went on to lose by 24. Junior Obina Agomo led Plano in scoring with 14 points, while senior Matt Priesman added 12 in the big defeat.

“I can’t teach my kids to make good decisions on the floor during an actual game. We sure work on trying to do the right thing in practice, but until we execute it on the floor consistently in a game or in pressure situations we won’t win and in fact we’ll probably get blown out,” Spriggs said.
Getting blown out by Lisle isn’t the most embarrassing thing that can happen to a team considering the Lions are ranked number five in the IHSA Class A ratings. But when the effort isn’t there against a team you beat a week earlier many eyebrows start to raise.

On Dec. 29 Plano defeated Coal City 59-55 in overtime during the Christmas Classic consolation semifinals. The Reapers dominated most of the game and would have won in regulation had it not been for a Coaler desperation three pointer at the end of the four periods.

But on Friday at Coal City, Plano looked as if they had never seen the Coalers and once again as against Lisle, their defense deserted them especially in the first quarter. The Reapers allowed Coal City numerous three-point attempts off screen plays that weren’t defended properly. The result four triples for the Coalers and a 21-8 lead after one period.

“We came here too overconfident. We knew we had beaten them in overtime and we knew it really wasn’t that close of a game,” said Plano senior Will Brown. “We thought we had this game before we even played it and we didn’t play any defense like we prepared for in practice. It’s really depressing especially after we were playing so well before these last two games.”

After the lopsided first quarter, the Reapers kept it close in terms of quarterly scores but never could make up the 13 point deficit. They trailed in double digits the rest of the game on the way to the 18 point loss. Senior Alex Jensen led Plano with 16 points, while Matt Priesman and Brown added 11 and eight points respectively.

“Over the past two games we haven’t been executing well at all. The great team attitude we had in the Classic somehow has left us,” Jensen said. “We need to find some heart, effort, and people caring. Until that happens we’ll continue to lose big like this. I’m still trying to have fun and work hard. It’s not a lot of fun though losing, but hopefully we can get back on track against Serena next week.”

With the two losses, Plano falls to an overall record of 7-10 and 1-4 in the Interstate Eight Conference. As Jensen mentioned the Reapers will do battle in a non-conference game on the road Tuesday at Serena. The Huskers currently own a 15-1 record as Little Ten Conference leaders. They also finished second in the “Classic” to eventual champion Seneca.

Then on Friday Plano will travel to Wilmington to take on the winless Wildcats in an I-8 matchup. Surely the Reapers will have to “ramp up” defensively against Serena if they will have a chance of victory. And against Wilmington, Plano certainly will have to guard against being upset.

“The bottom line is until we come to a game and decide to defend we will struggle. It’s that simple. If we don’t defend against Serena they’ll blow us out like Lisle and Coal City did. And if we don’t defend against Wilmington they may just beat us too,” Spriggs said. “It will definitely be interesting to see if we can turn things around. There aren’t too many games left so we better do it quickly.”

From Aurora Beacon News

Coal City 64, Plano 46 The Reapers fell behind 31-17 at the half and never recovered as Coal City shot 54 percent on the game. Alex Jensen had 16 points for the Reapers, while Matt Priesman tossed in 11.

Sandwich 46, Dwight 40 Alan Ritchie led three Indian players in double figures with 11 points, while Lance Futrell and Nate Roach tossed in 10 points apiece



Coal City 64, Plano       46
Lisle     65, Reed-Custer 38
Sandwich  46, Dwight      40
Seneca    63, Wilmington  21