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Strong start leads Streator past L-P at Pops

STREATOR — Coming off a tough one-point Interstate Eight Conference loss to Lisle last Friday, a game that Streator coach Beau Doty felt his team "had little energy for the first three quarters," the Bulldogs skipper was looking for his club to come out much stronger in Tuesday night's non-conference clash against former NCIC rival La Salle-Peru.

Streator did just that, as Noah Mascal and Mitch Vickers swished back-to-back triples, followed by a layup from Wes Jolly and an acrobatic drive from Joey Byers to give the hosts a 10-0 lead just two minutes in. The Cavaliers inched back to slice the lead to three midway into the third, but a key 6-0 burst by the Bulldogs helped them stay in control and eventually capture a 51-41 victory.

"We wanted to come out and start this game tonight with intensity, unlike the shred of intensity we had for most of our game last Friday night," said Doty, his club having defeated L-P in overtime 10 days ago in the third-place game of the Plano Christmas Classic. "You couldn't have asked for a better beginning. We talked in that first timeout about the fact that we had 30 more minutes to make solid decisions. L-P is a solid team and we knew they were going to be tough to put totally away because of their patience on the offensive end and ability to spread the floor. But we were able to get stops down the stretch and then make our free throws in the final minute."

The Bulldogs (10-5) closed out the opening eight minutes with a 17-9 lead, with Jolly netting six of his game-high 15 points and Vickers scoring six of his 13 markers. L-P (6-9), which has now lost four straight outings, closed out a see-saw second quarter with a rebound basket by Cole Lynch and lay-in off a steal by Tyler Martin (13 points) to cut it to 23-18 at the break.

"A big thing for me getting shots, it's all about my teammates," said Jolly, who hit his first six shots and also grabbed a game-best 12 rebounds for his second consecutive double-double. "With John (Benckendorf), Joey and Mitch working our pick-and-roll, it starts with me setting a good solid screen for them and then rolling hard the the basket. More times than not, they are able to get me the ball in low and from there it's my job to finish the play. I feel we run that part of our game pretty well and I think that showed tonight."

L-P's John Senica opened the second half with a trey and drives from Joel Pantoja and Martyn closed the gap to 28-25 at the midway point of the third. However, the 'Dogs responded with a two Jolly from Benckendorf pick-and-roll baskets sandwiched around a floater in the lane by Vickers to push the lead back to 34-25.

The Cavaliers cut it to four points (36-32) with two minutes to go, but Mason Benning sank a 3-pointer from the top of the key to give Streator a 39-33 lead heading to the fourth. From there, the home team kept it a two-possession game by sinking three straight one-and-one situations, one by Vickers and two by Byers, to close it out.
"We did a good job of answering their little runs after the first quarter," Doty said. "They were able to cut it to three there in the third, but we were able to quickly get it back up to nine with a nice run of our own. We did a great job of not being stagnant, reversing the ball in that stretch and were able to get the ball to Wes in space with the pick-and-roll. He is a force inside and if he can get the ball just outside the block or deeper he's tough to stop. He has really worked on his game and it shows."

At Pops Dale Gymnasium, Streator
Streator 51, La Salle-Peru 41

LA SALLE-PERU (41) — Kuppershmid 1-8 2-2 4, Pantoja 4-11 0-0 8, Martyn 6-12 0-0 13, Senica 2-6 1-8 6, Lynch 1-4 2-4 4, Thompson 2-7 2-5 6, Huber 0-1 0-0 0, Skoog 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 16-49 7-19 41.
STREATOR (51) — Vickers 4-10 3-4 13, Byers 2-3 4-4 8, Benckendorf 1-3 0-0 2, N. Mascal 2-6 3-4 8, Jolly 7-10 1-4 15, Telford 1-3 0-0 2, Groesbeck 0-0 0-0 0, M. Benning 1-1 0-0 3, Cantrell 0-0 0-0 0, G. Mascal 0-1 0-0 0, Colter 0-0 0-0 0, Ramon 0-0 0-0 0, Jordan 0-0 0-0 0, Diaz 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 18-37 11-16 51.
La Salle-Peru (6-9)    9   9  15   8 — 41
Streator (10-5)   17   6  16  12 — 51

3-point goals — L-P 2-19 (Kuppershmid 0-3, Pantoja 0-5, Martyn 1-2, Senica 1-2, Lynch 0-2, Thompson 0-4, Huber 0-1); Streator 4-12 (Vickers 2-4, Byers 0-1, Benckendorf 0-2, N. Mascal 1-3, M. Benning 1-1, G. Mascal 0-1). Rebounds — L-P 30 (Senica 9, Lynch 8); Streator 32 (Jolly 12, N. Mascal 6). Assists — L-P 5 (Pantoja 2); Streator 8 (Byers 3). Steals — L-P 6 (Martyn 3); Streator 2 (Byers, Vickers). Blocks — L-P 2 (Kuppershmid 1, Lynch 1); Streator 3 (Vickers, Byers, N. Mascal). Turnovers — L-P 8, Streator 12. Total fouls (fouled out) — L-P 16 (Thompson); Streator 15 (none).

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