PLANO – Facing a second-half deficit in its opening game of the Plano Christmas Classic, Indian Creek resorted to a ferocious full-court press.
The Timberwolves forced turnover after turnover to fight their way back, but it just wasn’t quite enough.
Brandon Williams’ jumper from the left wing gave Rockford Christan a one-point lead with less than five seconds to play, and the Royal Lions would hold on for a 36-35 win over Indian Creek.
The No. 11 seed Timberwolves, one of 16 seeded teams in the 24-team field, were the first seeded team to suffer a loss in this year’s tournament.
“Both teams are really good defensively. We knew that they were really good defensively and we do a really good job of keeping teams pretty low,” Indian Creek coach Joe Piekarz said. “I think the difference was they outhustled us in every aspect. They were getting to loose balls better, they were outrebounding us and doing those little things that allowed them to make that last shot.”
Down 31-24 in the fourth, Indian Creek went on a 7-0 run to tie the score at 31 after a David Boehne layup, thanks in part to the strong press. The Timberwolves would take a 35-34 lead after two Drew Winterton free throws before Williams hit the game-winner.
Indian Creek would force six turnovers once Piekarz employed the pressure, including four in a row at one point.
The Timberwolves were getting stops, but Piekarz wanted turnovers, and the strategy worked.
“We knew that they struggled [with pressure], so if we pressured the ball, we knew we’d be successful with, we call it the 50 defense,” Boehne said.
Boehne said the press works because of Indian Creek’s length. The Timberwolves feature 6-9 Garrison Govig and 6-5 Garrett Post.
Post had 10 points and 12 rebounds for the Timberwolves. Boehne added 11 points. Govig finished with seven points and Winterton had five.
Rockford Christian moves to 2-7 and will play No. 6 Morris in Thursday’s second round. The Timberwolves fall to 3-6.
The Timberwolves fall to the consolation bracket, where they’ll take on Wilmington, who lost to Mendota Monday afternoon, on Thursday at 5 p.m.
“Where we go from here is we keep trying to improve. We’re disappointed we’re not in the winner’s bracket. Nothing we can do about it now,” Piekarz said. “We’ve still got three more games, so that’s what we’re looking at now is, can we compete in three more games against three quality teams, and come out of here with a winning record.”
H-BR falls to Little Ten rival: Newark has featured a 1-2-2 trapping defense for a number of years.
And the Norsemen run it well.
Monday morning, Hinckley-Big Rock couldn’t get much going against the Newark trap in a 58-23 loss against its Little Ten foe at the Plano Christmas Classic. The Royals (3-7) were shut out during the fourth quarter.
“They’re well-versed with it,” H-BR coach Bill Sambrookes said. “They get long, it’s hard to see guys coming out of these traps. Newark did a great job with their defense.”
The No. 13 seed Norsemen (8-3) advance to play No. 4 Kaneland at 10:30 a.m. Thursday. The Royals fall into the consolation bracket, where they will play Lisle at 3:30 p.m. Thursday.
Newark featured good height for a Class 1A school in 6-6 Jack Clausel and 6-4 Evan Schomer. H-BR just never got much going offensively, and Sambrookes didn’t think his team attacked the seams in Newark’s defense as much as he wanted to see them to.
H-BR turned the ball over 23 times, while Newark Committed just 10 turnovers.
“They’re long. When you get the hands in the passing lanes and stuff, that’s hard to see the next pass. It’s hard to see the skips,” Sambrookes said. “When you’re as long as they are, we don’t have a lot of height. That’s our problem, that’s not theirs. They play defense really well.”
Jason Bohannon led H-BR with seven points. Tyler Runge had six while Dutch Schneeman finished with four.