Boys basketball: Bunnies fall prey to Hawks during season opener

GIBSON CITY — Kyle Williams made a 3-pointer and Luke Harvey converted on a running drive.

On those two possessions, the Fisher boys basketball team showed some offensive capabilities.

The only problem was those two baskets came nearly 10 minutes apart. Prairie Central led from the onset and never let up en route to a 59-33 blowout win against the Bunnies on Monday night in the 41st annual Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley Thanksgiving Tournament.

In Fisher’s first game back at the annual week-long tournament since 2007, it was anything but memorable.

A running clock ensued in the fourth quarter with the Hawks (1-0) nursing a 57-20 lead after the third quarter, and Fisher had more turnovers (14) than made field goals (13).

“They were really nervous at the start of the game,” Fisher head coach Ron Ragle said of his squad, which featured four starters who are getting their first chance at significant playing time. “As much as I tried to calm them down, they were really, really nervous. They did get shell-shocked. The thing is we need to stay positive, continue to work and realize it’s a long season.”

The Bunnies (0-1) will try to pick up their first win at 6 p.m. on Wednesday against Roanoke-Benson in another pool play game before taking on rival GCMS at 7 p.m. on Friday. How Fisher fares in its next two games will determine who and when it plays on Saturday during the tournament’s final day.

Fisher only dressed eight players on Monday, with seniors Tate Estes and Brendan Kuhns serving the first of a two-game suspension to start the season. Sophomore guard Grant Pointer is expected back Wednesday after missing Monday night because of a suspension.

“All the mistakes we made are fixable,” Ragle said. “We made a lot of mental mistakes. We didn’t run our offense well at times, and we forgot where we were supposed to be. We didn’t execute real well.”

Williams, a junior guard, finished with a game-high 18 points, including all 10 points the Bunnies scored in the first half. Prairie Central (1-0) led 37-10 at halftime.

Williams’ 3-pointer with 7:52 left in the second quarter trimmed Fisher’s deficit to 20-10, but the Hawks answered with 17 straight points to close out the quarter.

Prairie Central’s 23-0 run mercifully ended for the Bunnies when Harvey, a senior guard, scored with 5:58 left in the third quarter that made it 43-12.

“We just came out lethargic, fell behind and forgot how to play basketball,” Fisher senior forward Hans Carmien said. “It (stinks) that we lost, but we know what we have now.”

Carmien, the Bunnies’ only returning starter, finished with 11 points and seven rebounds, but sat for a seven-minute stretch in the first half after he picked up his second foul with 13.1 seconds left in the first quarter.

Junior center Gilvie Zook scored the only other basket for the Bunnies, who also received a team-high six rebounds from junior guard Brody Farrar. Fisher finished a meager 13-of-38 (34 percent) from the field, including 3-of-8 (38 percent) from 3-point range and only 4-of-11 (36 percent) from the free throw line.

Prairie Central, meanwhile, was a robust 24-of-42 (57 percent) from the field, including 7-of-15 (47 percent) from 3-point range and 4-of-8 (50 percent from the free throw line while committing eight turnovers. Senior forward Addison Bounds (17 points, eight rebounds) and senior guard Lane Maurer (13 points, three 3-pointers) paced the Hawks’ offense.

“You want your kids to shoot, but we were trying to work on other things,” said Prairie Central head coach Rick Schertz, who was coaching his first game with the Hawks. "I always think early in the game with a lot of three’s like that is kind of fool’s gold because you never know when it’s going to disappear, but we’ll definitely take them.”

While the Bunnies weren’t satisfied on Monday, Ragle and his squad understand a lopsided loss in the season opener won’t make or break the Bunnies’ season.

“The kids understand exactly what we didn’t do and where we need to improve,” Ragle said. “This game would give us an idea of what we need to work on and what we need to get better at. It definitely did that.”
mdaniels@rantoulpress.com

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