SHABBONA — Turnarounds are a huge part of high school basketball, both positive and negative ones. Sometimes teams, in this case, like Serena stop doing what got them a lead, while others, like Chicago Sullivan, stop doing what put them behind.
The Huskers used a solid, efficient effort in the first half to take advantage of two quarters of cold shooting and sloppy defense by Sullivan, giving them a six-point edge at the half. However, the script was reversed in the latter half. The Tigers soon found the range at both ends of the floor on its way to a 41-19 second half and a 63-46 victory over Serena here at Saturday’s Indian Creek Shootout.
Tony Pusateri popped in 13 points, all in the first half, and Jakob Setchell added 11 points and five rebounds for the Huskers (12-12), who led by as many as eight in the first quarter but shot just 33 percent, were outrebounded 22-7 and turned the ball over 13 times in the third and fourth periods combined.
So what happened?
“That’s what I keep asking myself and just asked the guys here in the locker room,” Serena coach Dain Twait said when asked about the difference in the halves. “I don’t know if we just quit sharing the ball the way we were in the first half. I know they made an adjustment on their press and coming out of that, we were taking the first available shot for a stretch there instead of continuing to move the ball, but we turned it over and gave them some runouts.
“The problem starts with our defense. Giving up 41 points in the second half, that’s unacceptable … We said at halftime, we have a three-possession cushion, so we just can’t turn the ball over, and that’s exactly what happened.”
Exactly. Though Pusateri’s eight-point first period and five more in the second lifted the local club to leads of 16-12 and 28-22 after those quarters, things fell apart for the Huskers from the get-go in the third stanza. Four straight turnovers were turned into eight points in a row by the Tigers – four of those points on steals and runouts by Joshua Scott – and though a runner by Trace Berggren later gave Serena a 35-32 lead, a trey and three-point play by Brandon Aiken put Sullivan on top to stay with 2 minutes, 6 seconds left in the third.
From there, the Tigers finished the game on a 25-11 burst, including 10-of-11 free throws and six points each from Scott and Aiken in the final period. Aiken led all scorers with 20 points.
“The only thing we did differently on the press was rotate to where we were supposed to be in the first place,” said Sullivan coach Jason Tucker. “In the first half, we were lost defensively. That was probably the worst we’ve played defensively in a long time. We did a better job in the second half, though in the fourth quarter we kinda got a little lost again, but by then we had a lead and knew we could pulled the ball out and make them extend … And all the sudden, we’re making free throws. We’d been about 50 percent up until the last two weeks.”
Sullivan 63, Serena 46
SERENA (46) — Setchell 4-14 2-4 11, Pusateri 5-9 0-0 13, Berggren 2-6 0-0 4, Franzen 2-7 0-0 4, Baker 1-1 1-1 3, Marker 2-4 0-0 4, Kuhn 1-3 0-0 2, Duffy 1-3 0-0 2, Watson 1-2 1-1 3, Rogers 0-0 0-0 0, McNelis 0-0 0-0 0, Movey 0-1 0-0 0, Kaforski 0-0 0-0 0, Mims 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 19-50 4-6 46.
Sullivan (12-9) 12 10 21 20 — 63
Serena (12-12) 16 12 11 7 — 46
3-point goals — Sullivan 1-15 (Aiken 1-5, Crockrom 0-1, Woodland 0-2, Adjanor 0-2, Scott 0-4); Serena 4-18 (Pusateri 3-4, Setchell 1-8, Kuhn 0-1, Berggren 0-2, Franzen 0-2). Rebounds — Sullivan 40 (Brown 13, Scott 10); Serena 25 (Setchell 5). Turnovers — Sullivan 13; Serena 23. Total fouls (none fouled out) — Sullivan 12; Serena 15.