From the early returns of Western Big 6 Conference boys' basketball, we know this much:|
The Alleman Pioneers play extremely well when having to dig out of a deep, early hole.
And the Moline Maroons struggle mightily when afforded an early double-digit lead.
That make some sense out of how Alleman was able to ditch a 14-2, first-quarter deficit against the Maroons Friday at Augustana's Carver Center and escape with a 44-39 victory for their first WB6 win of the season.
Only two points on 1-for-9 shooting after the opening eight minutes? Alleman coach Pat Rangel merely relied on an old Yogi-ism that he attributed to "Bobo" afterward.
"With Bobo (senior point guard Adam Hoogerwerf) in there, no matter what the score is, it's never over 'til it's over," the Alleman coach quipped.
"I hate to admit it, but early on, we couldn't play with that pressure, that's all there is to it," said Hoogerwerf, who was given that nickname by his grandpa Jim Hoogerwerf at birth. "We had to go 110 percent from there all of the time until we got back."
That comeback reached its peak on a Hoogerwerf steal and layup for the final basket of the third quarter, putting Alleman up 40-38. The Pioneers outscored Moline 15-10 in the second and 13-4 in the third.
"We've struggled playing with a lead," said Moline coach Jeff Schimmel, his Maroons now 3-4, 0-2 in the Big 6. "In our first game at the Galesburg tournament, we had a 15-point lead against Englewood" that slipped away before Moline pulled out the victory.
"When we have a lead, we tend to play loose with the ball."
Contributing to Moline's lack of a grip on its lead was its 3-point and free-throw shooting. The Maroons were 4-of-20 beyond the arc, including 11 straight misses. Drew Owens ended that stretch with a 3 that pulled the Maroons to within one at 40-39 with two minutes left in the game.
At the line, Moline was 1-of-5 in the fourth quarter. Conversely, Alleman hit just enough, 5-of-10, to fend off the Maroons to move to 3-3, 1-1 in the Big 6. Hoogerwerf was 3-of-4 at the line down the stretch.
Another key to Alleman's win was the play of its biggest starter, 6-foot-5 junior Joey Mihm. Strong inside and out, he had 10 points with a pair of 3s and five rebounds, the latter tying Kevin O'Keeffe for the team high.
"I congratulated him on keeping us in the game," Rangel said of Mihm.
Moline was led by Owens with a dozen points and junior center Brandon Vice with 10 points and eight boards.
Once Owens made it a one-point game late, Moline turned down as many opportunities to retake the lead as Alleman did in trying to build on its fourth-quarter fortune.
After Hoogerwerf nailed a pull-up jumper to make it 42-39 Alleman, Moline missed two free throws after a shooting foul and then the front end of a bonus in a span of 35 seconds.
Even then, Alleman declined the favor, only able to cash in on 2-of-4 from the stripe as the clock wound from :18 to :07. That, though, was enough, with Moline converting on only 6-of-19 shots in the second half, and only seven of those attempts being taken inside the arc.
"We've just got to find a way to get better, and fast," said Schimmel.
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