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Daily Journal
     January 30, 2020      #78-30 KDJ
 

BOYS BASKETBALL: Cissna Park holds off Bishop

By Mason Schweizer
mschweizer@daily-journal.com


KANKAKEE — After nearly an hour on a bus on its way to Bishop McNamara for Saturday afternoon hoops action, Cissna Park’s boys basketball team took a while to get warmed up, as was indicated by an early 15-2 Irish run in the first quarter.

But the Timberwolves heated up in the second on three Malaki Verkler baskets and rode the hot hand of Ian Rogers in the third quarter to build a lead as large as 14 points as Cissna Park held off a ferocious Irish 1-2-2 half-court trap in the fourth quarter and made six big free-throws late to leave with a 63-53 victory.

With the win, Cissna Park improved to 14-6. The Irish dropped to 7-12 with the loss.

The Timberwolves took an early 7-2 lead and seemed destined to run away with things early, but the Irish hit a couple 3-pointers and scored a pair of easy transition buckets off of Cissna Park turnovers to build a 15-2 run and take a 17-11 lead after a quarter.

And that’s when Verkler went to work. Thanks to some nifty passing and solid screens, Verkler was found under the basket for a trio of uncontested buckets that seemed to get the Timberwolves going after the Irish’s early onslaught.

“It kept us composed through a lot of pressure,” Verkler said. “[The Irish] wanted to speed up our play and we just had to stay composed and hit the ball in the basket a couple times to get us going.”

Keegan Boyle hit a pair of free-throws to complete a 9-0 Cissna Park run later in the quarter to give the Timberwolves a 24-22 lead, the last of six times the lead would change on the afternoon.

The T’Wolves lead sat at 29-26 at the half and quickly ballooned thanks to Ian Rogers. After missing his first four 3-pointers, Rogers caught fire in the second half, particularly to end the third quarter.

He hit a pair of 3-pointers back-to-back to cap off a 10-0 Cissna Park run to make it a 48-34 affair after the third. Johnson said he knew his shooters, Rogers in particular, were bound to start catching fire.

“We were too afraid in the first half,” Johnson said of his team’s early approach. “I know we’ve got pure shooters, especially Ian Rogers, and I knew he would start to hit them. I just told him to keep shooting the ball.”

Just like they did when they fell behind early, the Irish were able to roar back. They adjusted defensively, going with a half-court trap to force some turnovers and speed up the game, which worked. The Timberwolves turned the ball over eight times in the fourth quarter, but never allowed the Irish to get within three possessions.

As the Irish rallied, Johnson said he got immediate flashbacks to last weekend’s road game at St. Anne, where the Timberwolves lost a late lead in the fourth quarter and lost by two points.

“I told the guys we weren’t gonna drop another one,” Johnson said. “I said, ‘let’s get our bearings, get where we’re supposed to be and attack.”

Stat Book

Rogers led the Timberwolves with 21 points, nine rebounds, two assists and three steals. Verkler had 14 points, six rebounds and two assists. Boyle had 10 points, four rebounds, four assists and two steals.

Andrew Arseneau had 18 points, six rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block for the Irish. Jaxson Provost scored 11 points and had five rebounds, four assists and two steals. Owen Jackson had 10 points and two assists.

Up Next

Both teams are back in action with home games Friday. The Timberwolves host Watseka at 7 p.m. and the Irish host St. Francis at 7:30 p.m.

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Mason Schweizer
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