PAXTON – Trey Van Winkle is normally on Rantoul’s side when it comes to sports. The Panthers senior was a standout on the golf course for the Rantoul-PBL golf team in the fall.
Unfortunately for the Eagles they were not on the same team Friday night. Van Winkle scored 33 points, which helped PBL cruise past Rantoul 78-40.
Rantoul head coach Ryan Parker said Van Winkle had a great game.
“He is a great shooter, and he went off on us; there is really no other way to put it.”
The Eagles struggled to beat the Panthers’ fullcourt press and could not slow down Van Winkle early, trailing after the first quarter 16-6.
Parker said the press was something they knew was coming.
“Going into the game we knew they were going to run the 1-2-2. That is their main objective, and that is their style,” Parker said. “We had our press breakers set up; we knew if we got the ball to the middle and get out on the wings we could beat the press. Every time we got the ball to the middle we got a good-looking shot. But when you throw deep lazy passes that we talked about not doing, obviously that leads to turnovers.”
Rantoul picked up the pace on offense in the second quarter, more than doubling its six-point first quarter, going into half with 19 points.
But PBL’s offensive onslaught continued and went into the half with a 40-19 lead.
The best quarter for the Eagles was by far the third. Rantoul was able to get the ball up the court consistently and put up its high-scoring quarter with 16 points. PBL was still well in control, taking a 58-35 into the final eight minutes.
The fourth quarter was when the game really went sideways for Rantoul. The Eagles were outscored 20-5 in the quarter, which led to a running clock in the final five minutes.
A bright spot for the Eagles on Friday was sophomore Kejaun Caradine, who led Rantoul with 16 points and five rebounds. Lorenz Lee had five points and six boards to help pace the Eagles attack.
The Eagles were coming off a week in Taylorville where they went 1-4, but they felt like they played a lot better. There were not very many fans in the stands for those games, and Parker thinks that might have something to do with how his team played.
“I don’t know if it is when they get people around watching them that they know, they try to do other things than what we work on,” Parker said. “We talked the other day about how cool doesn’t win. Hard work wins, doing the little things and being tough. Tonight we hit a little adversity and then we tried to be cool again.”
The message in the locker room was about being tougher when the other teams go on runs.
“When adversity strikes, respond, don’t fold and don’t point the finger and just get back into doing what you’re supposed to be doing.”
The Eagles now host Bloomington at home on Friday.
“We got four practices this week that will be crucial. Because we have a tough Bloomington team coming into town on Friday,” Parker said. “They are going to press and play man. But if we do the things we are supposed to do we can compete,”
You can contact Ryan Birch at Rbirch@RantoulPress.com or on twitter @RyanBirchRP