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Mooseheart's Walli Sanni (No. 25) tries to disrupt an outlet pass by East Dubuque's Jason Schneider during the Ramblers 41-36 defeat in the South Beloit Martin Luther King, Jr. Tournament.
Mooseheart's Jesse Mennis is fouled while trying to to shoot by East Dubuque's Jonah Puls. Mennis scored a team-high 11 points in the Ramblers' 41-36 defeat in the South Beloit Martin Luther King, Jr. Tournament.
Mooseheart guard Noel Yarngo rises above a trio of East Dubuque defenders before passing the ball during the Ramblers 41-36 defeat in the South Beloit Martin Luther King, Jr. Tournament.
Jan. 16, SOUTH BELOIT – Poised with a shot as it took the court to advance to the South Beloit Martin Luther King, Jr. Tournament title game, Mooseheart's boys basketball team slumped to two defeats and finished fourth in the Sobo's 8th annual tournament.
The Ramblers opened with a 41-36 loss to East Dubuque, then suffered through a turnover-strewn contest and fell 60-50 to South Beloit. The losses leave Mooseheart 8-8 following the tournament's five games. After going 2-1 on Saturday, Mooseheart coach Ron Ahrens watch his team struggle on Monday.
“We're 8-8, which is disappointing,” Ahrens said. “I was hoping we'd be 10-6. We just played bad basketball today. Not very good basketball.”
Mooseheart's busy two days of play helped get the team back into game-playing shape after the long Christmas break, in which the Ramblers did not compete. And after North Boone fell in its opening contest on Monday, the Ramblers had a chance to win and face Dakota in the championship game. By losing, they dropped to the third-place game against a South Beloit team Mooseheart defeated on Saturday.
“It's always great getting games under our belt,” Ahrens said. “The disappointing thing is that we're six points from playing in the finals. Now we get out the tournament 2-3. We're not complaining, playing five games is good for us.”
Mooseheart's day opened with a game against East Dubuque, which was 0-3 in the tournament entering the contest. But the game remained close, with the Ramblers taking a 5-0 lead for their biggest margin of the game. Midway through the third quarter, the Ramblers led 29-25 after Jesse Mennis scored the last of his team-high 11 points.
But East Dubuque led 30-29 heading into the fourth quarter and never trailed, though the Ramblers had the lead to 34-33 with 5:34 to play.
“They packed it in and had five guys in the lane and just said 'shoot' to our guys,” Ahrens said. “We scored 15 total points in the second half and that's it right there.”
In a tight game where offense was difficult, the Ramblers could ill afford to turn over the basketball, yet that is what happened at key points in the final minutes of the contest.
“I called timeout with 4 minutes to go in the contest, and the next two times down the floor, we had turnovers and then the third time down, we didn't get a shot off.”
Trailing 36-33 coming out of that timeout, Mooseheart turned over the ball and Cole Theill converted a layup for a commanding five-point lead. A right-wing three-pointer by Noel Yarngo closed the gap to 38-36, but Mooseheart was unable to score again.
Turnovers continued to be a problem against South Beloit, where 20 first-half turnovers led to a 24-15 deficit. Still, the Ramblers rallied and had the lead to two points in the third quarter before the Sobos stopped Mooseeart's momentum.
“We cut the lead to two points in the third quarter and then we missed five straight shots,” Ahrens said. “We didn't have bad looks at the basket. But we got so far down in the first half. We had 20 turnovers and we were only down by nine. I was shocked.”
South Beloit took advantage of Mooseheart's offensive struggles and played zone for most of the game, something the Ramblers struggled with.
“I hope they understand that we've got to continue to play good defense for us to play games,” Ahrens said. “We've got to get better offensively. We're not very good offensively. South Beloit packed in a 2-3 zone.
Mooseheart hosts IMSA on Wednesday and now only has nine games plus the Northeastern Athletic Conference Tournament in which to compete before the IHSA playoffs begin.