Warrior boys basketball team drops three games

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Dan McGreal’s 19 points led the Warriors in last week’s loss to Kee. (Photos by Bev Hamann)

Gabe Erickson makes a cut off a screen set by teammate Tate Berns in Central's game versus NFV.

By Willis Patenaude, Times-Register


After stringing together a few solid games and getting a few more wins on the season, turnovers returned to wreak havoc on the Central boys basketball team, which went win-less last week. 


“We took a bit of a step back in terms of turnovers this week, which is something we had been seeing great improvement in over the course of the last month. We will look to get back to playing clean basketball and minimizing those, while building on our high field goal performance,” said coach Brady Stramer. 


In the first game of the week against Turkey Valley, the Warriors couldn’t find a rhythm through the first period, resulting in just seven points and digging a nine-point deficit. Play improved in the second period, as ball movement and tempo got better and the players were “able to get good looks at the hoop,” said Stramer. The early gap was insurmountable, though, and got larger in the third period when the Warriors were out-scored 22-13. They lost 60-45. 


“Unfortunately, we weren’t able to convert on a lot of close shots and were never able to get close enough to make a run despite us increasing our scoring output in each quarter as the game progressed. Turkey Valley was able to hit some perimeter shots in the third quarter that kept the game out of reach,” Stramer said. 


Dan McGreal led the Warriors with 13 points, and Gabe Erickson was the other double-digit scorer with 10. Tate Berns contributed eight points and 10 rebounds, while Sam Frailey also dropped in eight points, three rebounds and two assists. Elliot Kelly’s stat line included nine rebounds, six assists and four points. 


The Warriors shot 34 percent from the field and 33 percent on three pointers, and even out-rebounded the Trojans 33-23, but the 17 to five turnover ratio that favored the Trojans was a major factor in the outcome. 


The second game of the week was a home make-up against Kee. Defensive struggles throughout the game, even after making multiple adjustments, were unable to slow the Hawks offense. This put the Warriors in an early hole they never emerged from, going on to lose 69-51. 


“Kee was able to score 21 and 20 points in the first two quarters of the game, which had us down at the halftime break 29-41. We were never able to get enough stops on the defensive end to get back into the game,” Stramer said. 


McGreal led the offense with 19 points and six rebounds and played well on defense, coming up with three steals and two blocks. Isaac Wellendorf led the team with eight rebounds and added three points and one block. Caden Erickson went 3-4 with eight points, three rebounds and two assists. Berns put in seven points with two rebounds and two assists, and Isaac Loan and Kelly combined for eight points and seven rebounds. 


The Warriors shot 31 percent from the floor, and were inefficient on three-point shots, going 5-22 for 22 percent. The offense also turned the ball over 12 times and went 53 percent from the free throw line. 


Central’s final game of the week was a dramatic back and forth affair with North Fayette Valley that went into overtime. The Warriors relied on defensive adjustments to slow the pace of play and the TigerHawk offense down long enough for the offense to get them back in the game.  


“We were able to control the tempo of the game by forcing NFV to use a lot of the shot clock and taking away any transition opportunities,” Stramer said.


The middle two periods were kind to the Warriors, as they held the TigerHawks to 15 while scoring 23. By the end of the third period, the Warriors had erased an early four-point deficit and turned it into a four-point lead with a buzzer beating three-point shot by McGreal to cap off the third period. That sent the Warriors into the fourth period leading 31-27. 


The fourth quarter was a “roller coaster,” according to Stramer, with a lot of scoring from both teams. The Warriors dominated the first part of the quarter, moving the ball swiftly and knocking down perimeter shots, which allowed them to extend the lead to 49-37 with three minutes left. However, from that point on, the Central offensive execution dropped off as the TigerHawks’ defensive energy increased. 


“They were also able to get red hot from the three-point line down the stretch, which brought them right back into the game in the final minute. Some costly turnovers and a couple of missed free throws had them back in the game down three with 20 seconds to go before they hit another shot to tie it,” Stramer explained. 


The Warriors had the ball tied at 52 with five seconds to go and executed a three-quarter-court out of bounds play which gave them a shot at the buzzer, but it didn’t drop. It rattled in and out and the game headed to overtime. 


In overtime, NFV quickly started making perimeter shots, jumping out to an 8-0 run. While McGreal was able to hit some tough three-point shots as well, allowing the Warriors to hang around, the TigerHawks made their free throws down the stretch and eventually outlasted the Warriors 68-63. 


“While this was certainly a tough loss to take, our guys played extremely well on both ends of the court for nearly the entire game. We just didn’t execute well enough in the closing minutes to seal the deal,” Stramer said. 


The coach credited freshmen Isaac Loan and Jake Hertrampf for playing a lot of minutes and a big part in how well the team played. Stramer called it a testament to their talent and composure for being so young and facing a big and athletic team. 


“We went with a short rotation, and in the end, that led to some foul trouble, and even a couple of key players fouling out of the contest in Elliot Kelly and Isaac Loan,” Stramer said.  


McGreal once again led the team with 22 points, but in general, it was a balanced effort with three players in double figures. That included Gabe Erickson with 16 and Loan with 14.


The Warriors shot 50 percent from the field and 53 percent from long range, which “is a reflection of the great ball movement and shot selection we had all night long,” Stramer said. 


By comparison, the Tigerhawks shot 39 percent from the field and 30 percent on three pointers, but it was their size and athleticism that Stramer said allowed NFV to win the rebound battle 38-19. That was a big reason they were able to make the comeback. 


The other vital stat line that assisted the TigerHawks was turnovers. The Warriors turned the ball over 20 times, which was six more than NFV. 


The Warriors’ final game of the regular season, on Feb. 7, was against MFL MarMac, who is undefeated in the conference at 15-0 (19-1 overall). Said Stramer, “it will be a tough match-up for us, but we will look to control tempo and rebound more effectively than we did in our final game of the week.”

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