SOMONAUK – The problems that ailed the Indian Creek boys basketball team early in the season vanished when Little Ten Conference season rolled around.
Their ball movement, senior Garrison Govig and Nick Baldwin agree, was much-improved from their 5-7 start, and they won their first five games of their LTC slate.
That synergy landed them a top seed at the LTC tournament, which they hoped to win for the first time. On Thursday, that goal was dashed emphatically in a 66-44 loss to Somonauk.
“I had no question that we were going to win,” Baldwin said. “I think we came into this tournament very confident. First game, we were very confident, and we were just hitting shots. In the second game, we just panicked. Ball movement wasn’t as good, and the turnovers were piling up, and the overall confidence was just down for some reason.”
The Timberwolves (12-7) played with the confidence that has made them conference front-runners early on Thursday, taking a 20-13 lead in the first quarter after center Govig scored six points.
But the lead evaporated when Somonauk’s defensive pressure forced Indian Creek into six turnovers in the second quarter to fall behind 30-27 at the half. The Timberwolves committed four more turnovers in the third quarter, when the wheels came off as the Bobcats reeled off a 25-9 quarter to lead by 19.
“We practiced against the pressure [Wednesday],” Govig said. “We just couldn’t handle it, we just turned the ball over. We just have to be better. We have to take more time and survey the situation a little bit more.”
The Bobcats (10-11), were just 3-3 in the opening part of the conference season, but took apart the conference leaders with ease in Thursday’s second half. Their lead ballooned to 26 in the fourth before each team finally pulled their starters.
“They outexecuted us, they outhustled us, anything basketball-related, they did better than us tonight,” Indian Creek coach Joe Piekarz said. “I think we all are very surprised. I think it was one of those things where we had some adversity. When one guy’s struggling, we want other guys to step up and help pick him up. We just didn’t do that today. When one guy struggled, then the next guy struggled, then the next guy, and before you knew it, we couldn’t stop the train. We were just out of control.”
After finishing second to Hinckley-Big Rock in last year’s LTC tournament, the Timberwolves will have to wait another year for their first title as Indian Creek. Shabbona and Waterman high schools combined in the 1990s. Shabbona won the title in 1991.
The Timberwolves will have a chance to end the tournament on a high note when they play Paw Paw in the third-place game at 6:30 p.m. today.
“We were just playing as a team more (during first five LTC games),” Govig said. “We felt like it was finally our time to finally get one, and we just got outworked, outhustled and everything tonight. We just have to be better going forward, there’s no doubt about it.”