Central boys suffer two more losses

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Abenet Lammers shoots a three in Central’s loss to Kee. (Photos by Bev Hamann)

Parker Vaughn defends a Kee player.

By Willis Patenaude, Times-Register


The Central boys basketball team found itself mired in a five-game losing streak last week, dropping the Warriors to a 3-10 conference record. It started off with a postponed game against Turkey Valley, but the reprieve did little to prevent losses to Kee and South Winneshiek. 


In the Kee game, the Warriors struggled offensively, making only 17 of 59 total shots and three out of 20 three-pointers. They were held to less than 10 points in three out of four periods, losing 65-40.


Hazen Loan led the team with 17 points, going seven for 13 from the field, while teammates Evan Pensel, Parker Vaughn, and CJ Polkinghorn each contributed five points. 


The offense was also hindered by 17 turnovers and just 12 offensive rebounds, which limited second-chance points. The Warriors also accumulated just eight assists, of which Vaughn had three and Eliott Kelly two. Loan, Dan McGreal and James Eberhardt all had one. 


“I thought our guys did a really nice job of handling Kee’s extended pressure and not turning the ball over when trying to get the ball up the court. We did end up with 17 turnovers, which is more than we can afford, but those almost all came from playing in the half court. While we did struggle taking care of the ball in the half court, we were able to get some open shots, but, unfortunately for us, we struggled to convert on those opportunities. We were especially cold from the three-point line, making only three of the 20 that we attempted,” said head coach Brady Stramer. 


On the defensive side of the ball, Central allowed the Hawks to shoot 40.7 percent from the field, forced just eight turnovers, got six steals, and amassed one block from Tommy Seeland. In terms of overall rebounding, the Warriors finished with 34, which was just one less than Kee, but Central’s shooting woes really made up the difference. 


Loan led the team with seven rebounds, while Seeland grabbed four. Vaughn, Parker Smith, Kelly and Polkinghorn each came away with three.


“As we have talked about throughout the season, we have to find a way to play fast without being hurried. I feel that we have continued to improve in our press breaking ability, however, we are still getting sped up in our half court offense,” Stramer added. 


The following game against South Winneshiek saw the Warrior offense perform more consistently from period to period, but they still scored fewer than 10 points in the second and fourth periods and couldn’t keep pace with South Winneshiek, who shot 42.3 percent from the field and had three players score in double digits. 


The Warriors had only one player in double digits: Loan, who scored 12 points. Vaughn followed with eight points, while Abenet Lammers came off the bench with seven points. McGreal scored six, Pensel added five and Polkinghorn scored four. 


The Warriors shot 34 percent from the field, including going six for 21 from three. But the offense also committed 17 turnovers and made just three of 10 free throws. 


Lammers was a major contributor beyond the points, adding four rebounds, two assists and one steal. Polkinghorn led the team in rebounds with seven, while Pensel led in assists with three, and McGreal got the team’s lone block. 


“A few of our guys have had a rough stretch in terms of shooting the basketball, specifically from the three-point line, as our percentages have dropped as of late. While some of our shots aren’t as high quality as we would like, many of them are good, open shots. We just have to keep playing with confidence and believe that those percentages will start going back up. Lack of practice time doesn’t help with this, but the few remaining practices that we do have, we will make sure to carve out time to get some shots up to hopefully keep our guys’ confidence up and see that translate to our game shooting percentages,” Stramer pointed out. 


As for the rest of the game, Central was out-rebounded 37-28 and committed 17 fouls, which led to 13 points for South Winneshiek. The defense forced 11 turnovers, six steals and one blocked shot, but it wasn’t enough as South Winneshiek went on to win 61-43. 


“While the score may not indicate such, as we lost 43-61, I thought our game against South Winn was one of our more complete games of the season on the defensive end. We played man-to-man defense throughout the game due to how well South Winn did against our zone earlier in the season, when we lost 44-77. We were able to limit their three-point percentage to 21 percent, which was a testament to our defensive rotations and closeouts on the ball. We did turn the ball over too many times, a few of them resulting in fast break layups for them, which helped keep them ahead of us for the duration of the game,” Stramer said. 


The Warriors have another difficult stretch of games this week, beginning at Starmont on Feb. 1. They return home on Tuesday, Feb. 2 to take on MFL MarMac, then finish up the week against Turkey Valley on Thursday, Feb. 4.

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