By Steve Robinson | February 9, 2019 - 10:45 pm
Posted in Category: The Normalite, U-High

NORMAL – Springfield Lanphier High head basketball coach Blake Turner admitted his team is used to being at the top of the Central State Eight Conference, but this season has been different, due in part to having young players on a team that has been struggling to stay around .500 all season. The Lions managed to keep host University High at bay for most of the first quarter, but spent the remainder of the contest chasing the Pioneers, who won the contest, 73-60 before around 600 fans.

Junior guard Jason Snodgrass’ trey inside the game’s first minute put the Lions up, 3-0, but was quickly stifled by a trey from U-High junior guard Alex Wood followed by a deuce by Nate Torres, giving the Pioneers a fast 5-3 lead, but junior guard Larry Hemingway quickly tied the game with a layup at 5-5. Wood followed up with another trey giving the Pioneers an 8-5 lead.

But a deuce by Lions senior forward Karl Wright lit the fuse on a 9-0 run for the visitors which featured two free throws by Hemingway, a trey by Snodgrass, and deuce by senior forward Shain Chairs. That barrage forced U-High to call time, down 14-8 with 3:07 left in the quarter. A free throw by junior forward Joe Brown helped start U-High’s recovery, followed by a goaltending call against the Lions on a Torres shot, closing the Lions’ lead to 14-11. Wood closed out the quarter with a trey at the 1:07 mark followed by a deuce, which gave the Pioneers a 16-14 lead going into the second quarter.

A pair of 5-0 runs by the Pioneers highlighted the second quarter, the first of which began with two free throws by Torres. Torres was also intentionally fouled by Lions junior guard A. J. Frazier. In total, he went 3-for-4 and was followed by a deuce by junior guard Drew Wollenschlager, putting the Pioneers up by seven, 21-14. But a trey by Snodgrass closed the gap to 21-17 with six minutes left. Brown hit two more free throws for the Pioneers having been fouled by sophomore guard K.J. Dedrick, pushing the Pioneers up, 23-17.

A Snodgrass deuce helped pull Springfield Lanphier (11-13, 6-7 Central State Eight) within four, 23-19, but that was quickly followed by the Pioneers’ next 5-0 run which featured a deuce and free throw followed by another deuce all by Torres, extending U-High’s lead to nine, 28-19, prompting the Lions to call time out at the quarter’s 3:01 mark.

Following the timeout, Torres and Wood each sank baskets for U-High (17-7, 10-3 Central State Eight), extending the Pioneers’ advantage to 32-19 with 2:05 until halftime. Freshman forward Tye Banks’ deuce would be the Lions’ last points of the half, closing U-High’s lead, 32-21, before Pioneers junior guard Logan Christensen and Torres would each be fouled and combine for 2-for-4 from the line to push U-High’s lead, 34-21. Wollenschlager’s deuce would give U-High a 36-21 lead with 1:15 left. The two sides would go into halftime with a 36-23 Pioneers lead after Hemingway’s jumper closed the half.

Wollenschlager opened the third quarter with a trey at 7:46 pushing U-High up, 39-23, and that triggered a back-and-forth of baskets by Lanphier’s Wright, Torres for U-High and two unanswered deuces by Snodgrass before Lanphier called a 30 second timeout at the 6:01 mark, trailing by 12, 42-30. Coming out of the timeout, Hemingway and Banks hit back-to-back unanswered deuces, pulling the Lions within eight, 42-34, with 4:36 left in the quarter. Wood responded for the Pioneers hitting a deuce. That prompted Lanphier to call time again, down 44-34, at the 4:26 mark. Hemingway followed up with a one-man 5-0 run, a trey and two free throws, to pull his team within five, 44-39, at 3:28 in the quarter.

But an intentional foul committed by Chairs on U-High’s Wood leading to two free throws, followed by a deuce by Torres allowed the Pioneers to extend their lead to nine, 48-39, prompting another Lanphier timeout at 2:11 in the quarter. Hemingway went on another 5-0 run, including a trey, before freshman guard D. J. Starr’s jumper closed the quarter, with the Pioneers owning a 50-44 lead going into the fourth quarter.

Wright’s jumper seven seconds into the fourth quarter reduced U-High’s lead to four, 50-46, and prompted another Lanphier timeout. Coming out of that timeout, the game’s most intense period of scoring between the two sides took place starting with two free throws from a fouled Torres for U-High and two free throws for Lanphier from a fouled sophomore guard Maki Rose reduced the Pioneers’ lead, 52-48, with 7:20 left.

Wollenschlager’s deuce, two free throws and a trey by Wood helped push U-High in front of Lanphier, 59-48 with 6:12 left in the contest, but a trey by Banks shaved that lead to eight, 59-51. A deuce by Wollenschlager allowed the Pioneers to regain a 10-point lead, 61-51. A three-point play by Wright and a free throw by Morgan shaved U-High’s lead to six, 61-55 with 4:47 left, but two free shots by a fouled Hemingway put that lead back up, 63-55. A trey by Rose allowed Lanphier to come within five, 63-58.

Baskets by Starr and Torres again extended the lead to nine, 67-58 before Hemingway sank another basket pulling Lanphier within seven, 67-60, with 2:18 left prompting the visitors to take time out. But following that timeout, three Lanphier players, including Hemingway and Snodgrass, committed fouls sending Torres to the free throw line twice and Wood once. There the duo went a combined 6-for-6 leading to the final score.

Torres and Wood led the way for U-High in double-figures scoring 28 points and 24 points, respectfully. Hemingway’s 18 points led the charge for the Lions. He was followed in double-figures by Snodgrass’ 14 and 11 from Wright.

U-High head coach Andrew McDowell admitted that before this contest, his team’s free throw shooting “hasn’t been done very well at the end of games the last several games.” But he added, thanks to coaching by one of his assistants, Lester Hampton, the team had managed to improve from the charity stripe.

McDowell said his team is trying to learn to make adjustments when it encounters “aggressive pressure” from opponents. He added his team “needed this type of game to prepare us for the postseason.” He added he told his players to continue playing the way had all game during the fourth quarter when Lanphier was closing in, but to increase their intensity while doing that.

McDowell added Lanphier’s Wright didn’t suit up when the two teams met Jan. 8. “He’s an athletic difference maker,” McDowell said about Wright.

“U-High came out and jumped on us in the first half,” said Lanphier head coach Blake Turner. “I thought they were faster, quicker, more progressive than us in the first half. At halftime, I challenged the kids to come out more aggressive and play with a little more passion. At that point, it was not about Xs and Os. It was about competing.” Turner said he believed his players managed to match U-High’s intensity in the second half.

Pioneers Junior Varsity Wins, Too: U-High’s junior varsity team took on their counterparts in a contest prior to the varsity game, coming away with a 52-43 win.

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