An 11-point halftime cushion. Just four first-half baskets by the opposition.|
Yet, the Moline boys' basketball team refused to feel comfortable Friday night against Western Big 6 Conference rival Alleman.
"We let that happen last time we got an early lead on these guys and they came back to beat us,'' Moline junior Jed Wood said recalling a December setback. "So we said that wasn't going to happen again. We were going to keep our foot on the pedal.''
The Maroons certainly gave the Pioneers the gas, using second-half runs of 15-4 and 14-0 to roll to a 61-36 win at Wharton Field House.
Wood scored 15 of his game-high 17 points by intermission and Brandon Vice added a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds in the third straight Big 6 victory for the Maroons (16-9, 3-4).
The win also was Moline's 13th in the last 16 games, with the only losses to the state-ranked trio of Rock Island, Washington and Winnebago.
"This is the kind of game to show we keep getting better,'' Moline coach Jeff Schimmel said. "We've had so many leads evaporate this season, we've learned, we don't just want to hold on to the lead, we want to extend it. We don't want to keep teams hanging around. So it was good to see us get after it in the second quarter.''
That 11-point edge at intermission grew as large as 30 points before the benches emptied.
Without Adam Hoogerwerf's game-high seven assists paired with all six of his points coming in the second half, it's hard to imagine what sort of offensive attack Alleman (6-15, 1-6) could have mustered.
"To be quite candid, I'm very disappointed in the effort our kids put forth,'' Alleman coach Pat Rangel said. "We just had a group out there that wasn't playing on the same page. We failed to stay patient and go with the gameplan to have some deliberate possessions. When that happens, it doesn't take long to dig yourself a hole.''
Meanwhile, Moline was brutally efficient, rolling up 16 assists while forcing 16 Alleman turnovers (12 on steals).
"Jed really got going there in the second half, hitting some big shots for us,'' Schimmel said. "Tyler (Biscontine) and Drew (Owens), while it doesn't show in their points in the scorebook, I thought they did a great job defensively of getting tips, steals and deflections, which led to a lot of assists.''
Owens finished with a team-best best assists while Biscontine led the way with five steals. Those two double-digit scorers combined for only nine points.
"Devin Struble also gave us a huge lift off the bench in the first half,'' Schimmel said, pointing to a pair of 3-pointers and eight points from the senior reserve. "Devin really gave us someone to knock down some shots and get us going offensively.''
By comparison, Kevin O'Keeffe's seven points led Alleman.
"The difference now is we're playing with a lot of confidence and we know our roles,'' Schimmel said. "We have 3-4 guys now who can shoot the ball. It's just a matter of finding who has the hot hand.
"These guys have bought into their roles. They realize now it doesn't matter who scores, just that we win, and it shows. Right now we're in a pretty good place. We're just looking to keep this rolling now into the postseason.''
Moline gets a postseason barometer tonight with Normal visiting for a 6:30 p.m. varsity start. Alleman is idle and looking to regroup.
"We need guys to step up,'' Rangel said.We're not looking for anything fancy. We just need guys to do their jobs.''
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