STREATOR — No matter how much one team may like to grind it out or the other may want things knock-down, drag-out physical, in the end the game of basketball comes down to making shots.|
Friday evening at Pops Dale Gymnasium, the Geneseo Maple Leafs made a few more than the host Streator Bulldogs.
Geneseo survived a very physical, very ugly NIB 12 West meeting with the Bulldogs, building a small lead early and answering every Streator mini-run with one of its own for the remainder en route to the 38-33 victory.
The Maple Leafs move to 9-13 (4-4). The Bulldogs fall to 6-16 (1-7).
In a game where points were at such a premium, Geneseo's 25-point second half — led by point guard Ethan Radue's team-high 11 points, all of them coming in those deciding third and fourth quarters — was enough to put it away.
"It was probably one of the more physical games we've played this year," said Radue, whose 4-for-4 shooting from the free-throw line over the final 62 seconds sealed the deal Friday. "(La Salle-Peru) is tough, too, but Streator really came out after us, it being their senior night.
The key "was just making good passes and executing well and hitting our free throws. We've been struggling with our free throws lately, so it was good to finally hit some toward the end."
The Bulldogs — led by imposing 6-5 senior Josh Houch and his 11-point, eight-rebound, four-block performance — stayed within striking range all night. But every time Streator drew close, the Maple Leafs answered with a couple of baskets to extend their advantage back to multiple possessions.
"This was definitely one of those grind-it-out, hard-fought wins," Geneseo coach Brad Storm said. "That happens sometimes, and we kind of expected that. Our first game with Streator was kind of low-scoring and a grind-it-out type game where every possession is key and a swing of four or six points is a big run.
"We weren't totally surprised that it was that type of game, but at the same time I thought we did a good job of dictating tempo at times and getting a few runouts and stuff like that. ... We didn't play pretty, but we found a way to grind it out again and get a win."
Junior Jordan Mielke came off the bench to pitch in nine points for the Leafs. Jordan Starkey tallied a team-high three assists, Luke Snyder led the team in rebounds with seven and steals with three, and Austin Frank banged bodies with Houch most of the night and finished with six rebounds and three blocked shots.
"For as physical as the officials let the game be played and as ugly as it got because of that," Streator coach Beau Doty said, "we had a couple chances and a couple shots that went back rim that could have put us right there. I thought as the intensity of the game picked up as things kind of got out of hand, our intensity level and execution actually got better.
"We battled hard and battled through some adversity. Both teams did."
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