|Click Photo to Enlarge
Mooseheart boys basketball coach Ron Ahrens (right) exhorts his team to play better during Tuesday's 54-45 victory over Islamic Foundation in the Class 1A Hinckley-Big Rock Regional.
Mooseheart guard Kevin Gbadebo tries to get the ball past Islamic Foundation's Mehdi Hedroug in the second half of the Ramblers opening round victory in the Class 1A Hinckley-Big Rock Regional. Gbadebo scored 4 points for the Ramblers.
Mooseheart forward Hameed Odunewu drives to the basket to score 2 of his 10 points in the Ramblers 54-45 win over Islamic Foundation.
Feb. 21, HINCKLEY – Mooseheart boys basketball coach Ron Ahrens can be a man of very few words, especially when he is not pleased with the things he has seen on-court – so it said much that Ahrens said little in his initial assessment of his team's play on Tuesday night.
Ahrens had just seen his team defeat Islamic Foundation 54-45 in the opening round of the Class 1A Hinckley-Big Rock Regional, but he did not mince words when asked what he felt about the Ramblers' performance.
“I told the guys in the locker room that it's the worst game Mooseheart's played since I've been the head coach,” Ahrens said. “There's no doubt about it. We'll get beat by 25 (Wednesday) night if we play like that against Westminster.”
The Ramblers earned a regional semifinal game with Westminster Christian with their victory, marking the fourth time this season Mooseheart will have played the Warriors. Westminster Christian has won two of the first three games, including a 50-43 victory at the recent Northeastern Athletic Conference tournament. Wednesday's game starts at 8:10 p.m., following the Hinckley-Big Rock vs. Elgin Academy semifinal.
“They've all been halfway decent games with Wesminster,” Ahrens said. “But we have to play extremely better (Wednesday) to even be in the game. If we don't, our seniors will be done. I'd love to go 2-2 against them, but we've got to play a lot better than we did tonight.”
Mooseheart (12-17) seemed likely to steam past Islamic Foundation after a strong opening quarter. Despite starting sluggishly and forcing Ahrens to call timeout, the Ramblers surged behind 8 Daniel Tucker points and led 18-5.
“I took a timeout because I thought our guards weren't playing well, especially in the press,” Ahrens said. “Once we got in the press, then we ran it pretty well and got a pretty big lead.”
The lead did not last. Islamic Foundation cut the lead to 32-25 at halftime and had the margin to 36-34 with 3:29 left in the third quarter when Mohammed Shams scored.
“We didn't handle the pressure and they didn't even really pressure us,” Ahrens said. “We had 26 turnovers. We're 29 games into the year and we have 26 turnovers. That's horrible.”
Jesse Mennis scored on back-to-back possessions for the Ramblers to take the lead to 40-34 and the lead never slipped below 4 points the rest of the contest. Mennis was the game's leading scorer with 16 points. Hameed Odunewu added 10 points while Tucker did not score after the first quarter and finished with 8 points.
“We actually ran the offense where I thought we were in good shape every once in awhile, and then we couldn't make a 5-foot shot to save our life,” Ahrens said. “We missed a lot of layups and didn't finish strong to the hoop.”
Aakif Khan led Islamic Foundation with 14 points. Ahmed Ayesh added 10 points for the Chargers.
Islamic Foundation: Hedroug 3 0-0 7, Musieh 0 0-0 0, Shams 2 3-4 7, Qazi 2 1-7 5, Ghabra 1 0-0 2, Ahmed 0 0-0 0, Khan 4 6-6 14, Shuaipaj 0 0-0 0, Ayesh 5 0-1 10. Totals 17 10-18, 45.
Mooseheart: Tucker 4 0-0 8, Odunewu 5 0-1 10, Hart 2 0-0 4, Villaruel 3 0-0 6, Kurowski 0 0-0 0, Mennis 8 0-4 16, Gbadebo 2 0-2 4, Sanni 3 0-2 6. Totals 27 0-11 54.
Islamic Foundation 18 14 10 12 - 54
Mooseheart 5 20 11 9 - 45
3-point goals: Islamic Foundation: Hedroug 1. Mooseheart: None. Fouled out: None. Technical fouls: Islamic Foundation: Team 2.