ST. JOSEPH – The Rantoul Eagles’ slow start continued on Friday at St. Joseph-Ogden.
The Spartans took down the Eagles 60-37 in a non-conference game, even though it was played between two Illinois Prairie Conference foes.
The teams only play each other once in conference, so they scheduled a non-conference game.
The Eagles hung in early, trading threes in the first quarter with SJO.
Jaxson Freeman hit two deep threes to keep the Eagles in the game early. Freeman went 3-4 from behind the arc for the game, ending with nine points.
The Eagles trailed going into the quarter break 18-10. The Spartans pulled away in the second quarter, leading by 18 at halftime and never looked back.
Eagles assistant coach Ryan Parker, who is filling in for Frerichs in his absence, said the Eagles start was promising but they could not keep it up.
“We just quit rebounding. We were limiting them to tough shots, and then they would get a rebound and kick out for threes,” Parker said.
The Eagles are struggling with responding to adversity early in the season.
“When we get down, we can’t come back, and I told the guys in the locker room that when someone punched you in the mouth you have fight back,” Parker said.
Parker said it’s up to the players now to make the change.
“Right now we have to get better every day, whether or not it is in practice or whenever it is we have to work to get better,” Parker said.
“At the end of the day it is on them. We can run all the drills but if they don’t put the effort in, they won’t see the results they want to see.”
The Eagles will now focus on the Taylorville Christmas tournament.
“We have to work on playing for 32 minutes,” Parker said. “The next few days of practice are going to be about rebounding. If you get out-rebounded here you are going to get out-rebounded a lot when we start facing bigger schools. We are going to work on everything, and defensive rebounding has to try and keep us in it.”
The Eagles will take on Sterling at Taylorville at 5:30 on Dec. 26.
You can contact Ryan Birch at Rbirch@RantoulPress.com or on Twitter @RyanBirchRP.