Boys basketball: Eagles' defense a no-show in loss to Charleston

A slow start.

A frantic middle.

A sluggish finish.

The Rantoul Township High School boys basketball team went through a gamut of emotions during Tuesday night's 79-65 home loss to nonconference foe Charleston.

All told, frustrated and downtrodden looks filtered out of the Eagles' locker room after their second straight loss.

At times this season, the Eagles (8-11) look like a poised squad. The next minute, they can look totally disjointed.

Tuesday night featured both, but more of the latter.

Was this the most frustrating game of the season for RTHS head coach Brett Frerichs?

"Without a doubt," he said. "Even getting back in the game, we played soft. We played uninspired. We had no defense. I'm not taking anything away from Charleston. We knew coming in they could shoot the ball. We knew they could put up points, and we knew they would attack us. We just didn't come out with that intensity."

No. No they did not. Especially on the defensive end.

RTHS fell behind 20-3 in the game's first five minutes, and trailed 28-11 at the end of the first quarter.

A frenetic pace in the second quarter, however, allowed RTHS to only trail 49-45 at halftime thanks to determined play by junior guard James Coleman (14 points), senior forward Greg Morrow (11 points, nine rebounds) and senior forward Damontae Space (six points, six rebounds).

The Eagles only trailed 51-50 with 6 minutes, 5 seconds left in the third quarter after Morrow scored inside, but that was the closest RTHS would get the rest of the game.

The Trojans (12-5) rattled off a 13-2 run during the next two minutes, with five players scoring to showcase a balanced offense that caused fits all game long for the Eagles.

Charleston senior guard Truston Winnett led all scorers with 23 points helped out by a 14-of-16 effort at the foul line while senior guard Zach Steidl (17 points), senior forward Ethan Miller (14 points) and senior forward Noah Miller (nine points, 13 rebounds) complemented a strong offensive showing by Charleston.

RTHS junior guard Johnny Jones tied Coleman for team-high honors with 14 points while junior guard Talon Hardin added 10 points, but he fouled out with 5:40 remaining.

The Eagles will try to make sure Tuesday night was a fluke when they travel to take on Bloomington Central Catholic at 7:30 p.m. on Friday in Corn Belt Conference play.

Defense is an area the Eagles will undoubtedly spend a majority of practice time on the next two days.

"We got back in it because (Charleston) tired a little bit," Frerichs said. "It wasn't because we stopped them on defense. The only reason they didn't score 100 was because they slowed it down at the end. We made some buckets, got the crowd into it and made a nice run, but we didn't play defense the whole night."


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