By Steve Raymond
News Report Staff
At times Friday night, Teutopolis looked dominating.
At other times, not so good.
The Wooden Shoes’ pressure forced several turnovers, especially in the first half, and used some of those to spark 15-0 and 18-4 scoring runs. At one time, they led by as many as 20 points.
At other times, the Shoes committed far too many turnovers and took ill-advised shots.
But when the final horn sounded, T-Town had posted a 51-41 win on Homecoming Night over Breese Central.
“First half was pretty good; second half was poor,” THS coach Jason Hanson said following the home opener. “We had a couple nice runs and I thought we played very well at times. In fact, that was the best we’ve played so far. It’s just too bad we didn’t keep that up.”
It took the Shoes a little over two minutes to get on the scoreboard. But once Lane Belleville broke the ice at the 5:41 mark, the Shoes exploded. Mitch Hardiek hit a long 3-pointer and the T-Town pressure forced the Cougars into five quick turnovers.
Chris Ungrund converted one of those into a three-point play, Brant Bueker converted another into a basket and Brock Bueker hit a jumper to complete the 15-0 scoring spree at the 3:31 mark.
But as was the case the entire game, every time the Shoes threatened to pull away, Breese Central fought back. By the end of the first period, the THS lead was 17-8.
Joe Raterman and Tyler Joest both scored four points as the Cougars got within 20-16 with 4:49 to play in the first half. But then the Shoes went on another run.
Ungrund pumped in eight points and Eric Kremer came off the bench to add four more to spark the 18-4 surge that sent Teutopolis to the locker room with a 38-20 advantage at intermission.
“We did a nice job in that first half,” Hanson said. “The guys were hustling and playing hard. They got their hands on a lot of balls and turned them into points. But then they got away from that and didn’t play as hard in the second half.”
After connecting on 58 percent of their shots in the first 16 minutes (14-for-24), the Shoes’ offensive production slowed considerably in the second half. Breese Central switched to a zone and T-Town didn’t respond very well.
“We hadn’t seen a zone this season,” Hanson said. “We didn’t work the ball for the best shot. We started taking quick shots. We made some poor decisions and forced things.”
Despite hitting just 3-of-10 shots in the third period, the Cougars weren’t able to capitalize. Heading into the final eight minutes, the Shoes still held a comfortable 45-28 lead.
Hardiek opened the quarter with a 3-pointer that gave T-Town its biggest lead of the game at 48-28. But that was the last shot the Shoes hit. They did make 3-of-5 free throws, but missed their final seven shots from the floor and turned the ball over seven times; finishing with 23 in the game.
Fortunately, Breese Central didn’t shoot much better and was unable to close the gap until late in the game. An 8-0 run got the Cougars to within 50-41 in the final seconds.
“Our turnovers were terrible,” Hanson said. “We’ve struggle with that so far this year. We had a lot of bad turnovers in the tournament. We have good ball-handlers and are too skilled to turn the ball over as much as we have.”
Hardiek led three T-Town players in double figures with 14 points. Ungrund scored 13 and Brant Bueker added 10. Belleville had a game-high 10 rebounds.
The Shoes hit 18-of-42 shots (43 percent), but connected on only 4-of-18 in the second half. That included being 4-of-14 from behind the arc; 2-of-10 in the final two quarters.
Hanson was pleased with the play of Ungrund, the team’s point guard.
“That’s the best Chris has played so far this year,” the coach said. “He did a good job running our offense and getting the ball to the basket.”
The Shoes improved to 4-1 on the young season. They will return to action Friday with a game at St. Joseph-Ogden and then return home to face Effingham on Tuesday.