Area roundup: Trojans come up short in final minutes against Hoopeston

HOOPESTON — After losing six consecutive games dating back to a Dec. 11 win over Schlarman, the Armstrong-Potomac boys basketball team had perhaps its best chance at ending the skid Friday night against Hoopeston Area.

Leading by one point on the road with 1 minute, 50 seconds remaining in the game, the Trojans took the ball out of bounds and turned it over.

The Cornjerkers knocked down a three-pointer to take a two-point lead, and A-P subsequently turned the ball over again, leading to a second straight HA three. The two giveaways and three-point buckets buried the Trojans’ momentum, and A-P lost 66-57 in the Vermilion Valley Conference tilt.

“We played much better. We got a few kids back. I know what (Illinois men’s basketball coach Brad) Underwood feels like. We’ve got to learn how to win these games,” A-P coach Deon Mennenga said. “It’s promising. I thought we played really well. It’s really the first game we’ve put together where we had everybody back that’s eligible to play. We changed some offensive schemes over Christmas after (the holiday tournament).

“Things are definitely looking up, but these kids who haven’t won in the past, they need to learn how. When you’re up one with the ball, you’ve got to take care of it.”

The Trojans (4-13), playing without ill starting point guard Kyler Stephens, got two starters back from suspension who did not play the first half of the season. But mistakes spoiled their return — such as A-P holding a five-point lead with 30 seconds left in the first half, taking a quick shot and then allowing the Cornjerkers to trim their halftime deficit to 26-23.

The loss also spoiled a terrific night by 6-1 senior forward Dalton Loschen, who nailed 13 shots en route to a game-high 29 points.

“We’ve been working with him and told him if he can develop a shot at least out to the volleyball line, 7-8 feet, you might get 30,” Mennenga said. “If he would open that up and trust himself, for a 6-1 post player, he gets the job done. He’s just got to add a little 6-7-foot jumper. That’s all he’s got to add. He gets up the floor so well that he can get it up and shoot it over anybody. He definitely does (contort his body). We’ve been getting him the ball a little better.

“We turned the ball over a little bit (Friday), but not near as much as we have in the past. We turned the ball over trying to get the ball to Dalton. We didn’t turn the ball over unforced very much at all.”

Hambleton erupts

Hope Hambleton nearly outscored Chrisman with 25 points as Armstrong-Potomac defeated Chrisman 55-31 on Thursday. The Trojans won their third consecutive game, dropping the Cardinals (4-15) in a Vermilion Valley Conference tilt. Maddie Buhr was A-P's secondary leader with nine points. Hannah Mitchell put up 11 points for Chrisman in defeat.

A-P then won its fourth straight on Saturday, defeating Bloomington Cornerstone, 52-27. The Trojans (9-11) were led by Buhr’s 12 points on four three-pointers and Denley Heller’s eight points. A-P hit nine treys.

Fisher drops two

Natalie Bates' well-rounded effort keyed host Tuscola in a 41-20 win over Fisher on Thursday. Bates posted 12 points, seven steals and five assists for Tuscola (15-5), which also got seven points and nine rebounds from Lexie Russo. Fisher landed eight points from Sidney Hood.

On Saturday, the host Bunnies trailed early and couldn't mount a comeback in a 47-38 Heart of Illinois Conference loss to Lexington. Hood scored a team-high 14 points for Fisher (4-16) on the strength of three three-pointers, and Ashlyn Carpenter added seven points.

sports@rantoulpress.com

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