The one and only regular-season meeting between Three Rivers Conference rivals Prophetstown and Amboy had its share of suspense, with the Prophets holding on for a 50-48 win on Jan. 22.|
Nearly a month later, the two are set to tangle once again in the opening game of the Class 1A Erie Regional. This time, Prophetstown coach Cordell Juhola is hoping for a lot less suspense in this evening's 6 p.m. postseason tilt.
"To tell you the truth, they threw a lot at us the last time,"said Juhola. "Amboy went zone, and we jumped up 16-0 to start the game. Then they went back to man-to-man, and we had some breakdowns. They may try to run a triangle-and-2 against us, to try and slow down our transition game."
Making the transition from the regular season to regionals, the Prophets go in with a 13-14 record that is below where they hoped they would be at after starting the season 9-3, capped with a first-place finish at the ROWVA/Ridgewood Tournament prior to Christmas. That title was followed by a seven-game losing streak, during which injuries took their toll.
"Zach (senior center Zach Inskeep) was out with a wrist injury for four games after our 9-3 start, which was a big part of the problem," said Juhola. "Then, we had some kids get sick; we had all of our starters sick through several games. Then, we had another one dislocate his finger and another guy roll his ankle.
"It's been a lot of different things. We've seemed to fight one thing or another since Christmas, but the guys have kept on playing hard."
A win puts Prophetstown up against No. 1 Paw Paw in Tuesday's 7:30 p.m. semifinals at the Cardinal Cage, but for right now, the Prophets are fully focused on taking care of business against a 6-20 Amboy team that lost its regular-season finale 60-19 to Morrison.
"We've had to learn to finish games. Twenty-one of our games, we've led at half, and another one we were tied (at halftime)," said Juhola, whose club is led by senior forward Carter Ames' 14 points per game and Inskeep's nine points and six rebounds. "It's been a breakdown in composure at the wrong times. We've got to have the right mindset in what we need to do."
Fulton-Morrison renew rivalry: They're not playing for a wooden shoe like they do on the football field, but TRAC-9 rivals Fulton (6-24) and Morrison (5-25) will be renewing a fierce rivalry tonight at 7:30 in Mount Carroll when they open the Class 2A West Carroll Regional.
Playing on their home court, the Steamers bested the Mustangs 45-39, one of just three conference wins for coach Rick Norman's club. The former Fulton boys' basketball great is expecting more of the same in tonight's rematch.
"It's a big rivalry game, and it should be a very exciting one," said Norman. "Both schools should bring a nice crowd, and the atmosphere should be high, which will be exciting for the kids. This is it; everyone's 0-0, so what we did in the past doesn't mean anything."
For his part, Morrison coach Dave Peugh hopes to capitalize on his team's recent 41-point rout of Amboy in its regular-season finale. "Since the first of the year, we've been playing some of our best basketball, which was our goal," he said.
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