BLOOMINGTON -- In simplest terms, the Alleman boys' basketball team fumbled this one away.
Leading comfortably midway through the fourth quarter on Wednesday afternoon, the Pioneers lost their grip. Bloomington Central Catholic took advantage, scoring 13 of the game's final 15 points to hand Alleman a 38-34 loss in the State Farm Holiday Classic at the Shirk Center.
"We did stuff that was out of character," Alleman coach Pat Rangel said. "With five minutes left and a seven-point lead, we have to run our offense and take time off the clock. We went 1-on-5 and threw the ball way."
John Tracey's basket with 5:07 left in regulation put the Pioneers ahead 32-25, their largest lead of the game. On its next three possessions, Alleman (4-5) committed unforced turnovers instead of protecting or extending the lead.
The Saints (7-4) scored on each possession, with Elliott Hoerdemann's 3-pointer from the top of the key tying the game at 32 with 3:17 left.
"We were out of control," said Tracey, who scored a team-high 10 points. "We weren't smart with the ball. We had some dumb mistakes."
Playing out of character, the Pioneers struggled to even hold onto the ball. In the final five minutes, they committed five turnovers.
Central Catholic scored seven points off those miscues.
"We've usually been smart with the ball all year," Tracey said. "We got a little wild. We had to calm down."
Other than Adam Hoogerwerf's layup with :05.5 left, Alleman did not score in the final five minutes. Hoogerwerf missed the front-end of a one-and-bonus with two minutes left and the game tied at 32, further compounding the Pioneers' end-of-game issues.
On the other end, the Saints hit three of their final four shots and converted all four foul shots in the last five minutes.
"We played a good second half up to that point," said Rangel, whose team meets Macon Meridian in the consolation quarterfinal at 9:30 this morning at Normal West. "It seemed like we took a breather and thought it was over. For some reason, we stopped doing what we did to get the seven-point lead."
Trailing until midway through the third, Alleman took its first lead when Tracey converted a layup second before the quarter ended. The Pioneers used a Kevin O'Keeffe trey and back-to-back Tracey baskets to go ahead 32-25 three minutes into the fourth.
The lead vanished less than two minutes later.
"We had it. We let it slip away," Tracey said. "We have to do a better job of controlling the ball."