PBL boys basketball loses 56-47 to Rantoul

PAXTON -- The boys varsity basketball teams at Rantoul and Paxton-Buckley-Loda have played in some memorable games in recent years.
In 2016, the two teams were ranked in The News-Gazette area's top five as No. 4-ranked Rantoul defeated No. 1-ranked PBL by a score of 73-70.
"It's a good rivalry game. I always look forward to coming in here," Rantoul head coach Brett Frerichs said. "Their defense gives us a different look, so I'm just happy to come out here with a win.
"I've always considered (Rantoul and) PBL to be a good rivalry. We've always had pretty competitive games. We didn't expect anything different coming into this game." 
Although neither team went into Tuesday's contest with a record above .500, PBL head coach Adam Schonauer knew the then-5-9 Eagles would be a tough matchup.
"Their speed and athleticism are things we can't necessarily simulate in practice. You've got to go out and play teams like that," Schonauer said.
A 56-47 loss to Rantoul, the Panthers' fifth straight defeat, dropped PBL to a record of 6-7.
"We struggled with some of their pressure and got sloppy offensively," Schonauer said. "Defensively is where I would have liked us to have been a little more structrued, a little more intent and purposeful with what we're doing. We just got out of a lot of sorts and really got whipped off the dribble. Our rotatons were slow, and that gave them a lot of driving space, we've got to clean that up."
The two teams ended the first quarter in a 16-16 tie. 
Latavius Winston made a free throw and a basket to give Rantoul an early 3-0 lead before PBL's Andrew Swanson and Rantoul's Jametriel Hudson exchanged buckets to make the score 5-2.
Tyler Pichon then converted on a three-point play with 5:54 left in the first quarter to tie the game at 5-5. After Winston made another basket to give Rantoul a 7-5 lead, a technical foul by the Eagles led to two free throws by PBL's Austin Gooden that tied the game again at 7-7.
The Panthers' Drake Schrodt then scored while being fouled with 3:37 left in the first quarter to give PBL a 9-7 lead. Twenty seconds later, Schrodt made two free throws to extend his team's lead to 11-7.
Schrodt's foul shots were two of PBL's 19 free-throw attempts in the first half, of which the Panthers made 11. Rantoul, meanwhile, made 2-of-7 foul-shot opportunities.
"That's just undisciplined defense," Frerichs said. "We work so hard on the defensive end in practice, and it's frustrating to see, come game night, where it's all hands, not moving our feet. It's just not smart basketball."
Alexander converted on a three-point play with 2:25 left in the first quarter to cut Rantoul's deficit to 11-10 before L.J. Lewis drained a 3-pointer gave the Eagles (6-9) a 13-11 lead.
Two free throws by Pichon tied the game at 13-13 with 1:52 left in the first quarter before Hudson and PBL's Mason Ecker exchanged 3-pointers to make the score 16-16.
Hudson drained another trey to give Rantoul an early 19-16 lead before Alexander scored on a transition layup to extend the lead to 21-16.
Hudson and Alexander, Rantoul's two starting senior guards, would finish the game leading the Eagles in scoring with 21 and 12 points, respectively.
"We've been relying on them to become leaders for us on the floor," Frerichs said. "I credit both of those senior guards with the win tonight."
A free throw and basket by PBL's Ben Jarboe and another foul shot by Ecker cut their team's deficit to 21-20 with 5:54 left in the second quarter. 
From there, however, Rantoul went on a 9-0 run as Hudson made a 3-pointer before Garet Kinnett scored on a transtion layup, Kamryn Rome made a basket and another transition layup by Hudson extended Rantoul's lead to 30-20 with 4:20 left in the second quarter.
After Schrodt made two free throws with 4:01 left in the second quarter, Alexander made a 3-pointer. Gooden and Swanson each made a basket to cut PBL's deficit to 33-26 before two baskets by Hudson made the score 37-26.
Ecker assisted Kyle Poll on a transition layup that made the score 37-28 before Schrodt passed to Ecker, who cut toward the basket for a buzzer-beating layup that cut the Panthers' deficit to 37-30.
Shortly after the basket, Rantoul's Hayden Cargo committed a flagrant foul on Ecker that got him ejected from the game and gave Ecker two free throw opportunities to start the third quarter.
Ecker made one of the two free throws to cut PBL's deficit to 37-31. After a Rantoul turnover, the Panthers' Austin Sanders drained a 3-pointer to cut his team's deficit to 37-34.
"Our nemesis all year has been unforced turnovers, which we saw in this game, but we're slowly getting better with those turnovers," Frerichs said. "It's getting there."
Lewis made a free throw after drawing Pichon's fourth foul to give Rantoul a 38-34 lead. A 3-pointer by Ecker cut PBL's deficit to what would be its smallest margin at 38-37 before Rantoul went on a 6-0 run.
Alexander and Lewis each made a basket before Winston score on an offensive-rebound putback that extended the Eagles' lead to 44-37. A trey by Gooden then cut PBL's deficit to 44-40 with about three minutes left in the third quarter.
Both teams then got shut out for the rest of the quarter.
"Offensively, we did a better job of sharing the basketball and getting some easier looks with our ball movement, some penetration. We're just not consistent enough at using our offense to get better looks," Schonauer said. 
"We're getting sped up by some teams with their ball pressure and kind of getting out of sorts and overdribbling at times. We have gotten better. We're making good strides there. The hope is that, throughout playing some of these good teams, we just become more comfortable with it and, come February, we can play against teams that get up and guard and are physical."
Gooden and Hudson exchanged baskets to make the score 46-42 before another bucket by Winston extended Rantoul's lead to 48-42.
An Eagles turnover led to a fastbreak for PBL that ended with a Pichon basket. Gooden then scored on an offensive-rebound putbakc to cut PBL's deficit to 48-46 with 4:11 remaining.
Gooden blocked a shot on Rantoul's ensuing possession, but the Eagles got the ball back before Maycoll Ramos tallied a basket to extend Rantoul's lead to 50-46.
"That's kind of been our achilles heal. We've been able to compete with some of these better teams now. We just haven't been able to get those big stops and make that big shot to get us over the hump," Schonauer said.
With about 1:30 remaining, Winston scored on an offensive-rebound putback to further extend the Eagles' lead to 52-46.
"We had a chance there, but that was kind of it for us," Schonauer said. "We've got to try to find some ways to finish some possessions, especially toward the end of the game, when it's a two-possession game."
Winston then blocked a shot on PBL's ensuing possession, which led to a transition layup by Alexander that made the score 54-46 with 1:06 remaining.
The 6-foot-6 junior forward Winston would finish the game with 11 points, but he fouled out with 55.7 seconds remaining, which led to a free throw by Gooden that cut PBL's deficit to 54-47.
"He's a guy whom we're looking toward more and more every game. Unfortunately, he's still making the silly fouls," Frerichs said. "He still is raw, but he's coming along tremendously, and he's a big asset for us."
"They hurt us inside and were able to get some offensive-rebound putbacks and some post-touch opportunities," Schonauer added. "We've just to do a better job of competing while the ball is in the air and trying to get some hands on the ball and get some deflections. We've got to do a much better job of putting a body on guys."
Two free throws by Hudson with 14.3 seconds remaining concluded the scoring at 56-47 for Rantoul.
"It was a grind-it-out victory, so I'm definitely happy with this win," Frerichs said.
Gooden led the Panthers in scoring at the game's end with 12 points while Ecker also scored in double figures with 10 points. Pichon had seven points while Schrodt had six points, Swanson had four points, Sanders and Jarboe each had three points and Poll had two points.
Junior varsity
The Paxton-Buckley-Loda junior varsity boys basketball team won 55-43 Tuesday, Jan. 9, over Rantoul.
In the first quarter, Trey VanWinkle had eight points while Colton Coy had four points and Alex Rueck had two points as PBL went into the second quarter trailing 19-14.
The Panthers overcame their deficit with a 13-7 advantage in the second quarter. Gunner Belt made a 3-pointer while Rueck scored four points, VanWinkle made three free throws and Coy had basket and a foul shot.
In the third quarter, PBL outscored Rantoul 18-11 as Sam Penicook and VanWinkle each made a 3-pointer. Penicook had five third-quarter points while VanWinkle had three points, Coy had five points, Rueck had four points and Jarred Gronsky had one point.
The Panthers outscored the Eagles 10-7 in the fourth quarter as Gavin Coplea, Penicook and VanWinkle each made two free throws, Rueck had two points and Gronsky and Coy each made a foul shot.
At the game's end, VanWinkle, Coy and Rueck each scored in double figures for PBL with 16, 13 and 12 points, respectively, while Penicook had seven points, Belt had three points and Coplea and Gronsky each had two points.
For Rantoul, Jaylen McCullough led in scoring with 17 points while Jerry Harper added 11 points.
Rantoul 56, PBL 47
RAN  16  21  7  12  -- 56
PBL  16  14  10  7  -- 47
L.J. Lewis 2-1-6, Kamryn Rome 1-0-2, Jaedyn Alexander 5-1-12, Walter Stanford 0-0-0, Jametriel Hudson 8-2-21, Hayden Cargo 0-0-0, Garet Kinnett 1-0-2, Maycoll Ramos 1-0-2, Latavius Winston 5-1-11, Freddrick Walker 0-0-0. Totals 23-5-56.
Drake Schrodt 1-4-6, Mason Ecker 3-2-10, Tyler Pichon 2-3-7, Colton Coy 0-0-0, Austin Gooden 4-3-12, Kyle Poll 1-0-2, Austin Sanders 1-0-3, Ben Jarboe 1-1-3, Dalton Busboom 0-0-0, Andrew Swanson 2-0-4, Jake Rich 0-0-0. Totals 15-13-47. 
3-pointers -- Rantoul 5 (Hudson 3, Alexander, Lewis). PBL 4 (Ecker 2, Gooden, Sanders).
PBL 55, Rantoul 43
RAN 19    7    11    7    -- 43
PBL 14   13   18   10   -- 55
Jaylen McCullough 6-3-17, Jerry Harper 5-1-11, Ethan Tarter 2-2-6, Nolan Riddle 0-1-1, Juwan Gray 1-0-3, Eli Remington 1-1-3, Bryant Shaw 0-0-0, Corshaun Spinks 0-0-0, Solid 0-0-0. Totals 15-8-43.
Gunner Belt 1-0-3, Gavin Coplea 0-2-2, Jarred Gronsky 0-2-2, Sam Penicook 2-2-7, Trey VanWinkle 4-5-16, Alex Rueck 6-0-12, Colton Coy 5-3-13. Totals 18-14-55.
3-pointers -- Rantoul 3 (McCullough 2, Gray). PBL 5 (VanWinkle 3, Penicook, Belt).


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