By FRANK CASH
Herald-Whig Sports Writer
WARSAW, Ill. -- Todd Fox is pleased with the progress his Southeastern boys basketball team has made this season.
He just wishes there would be a few more victories along the way.
Tuesday night, the Suns battled Keokuk through 11 lead changes during the first three quarters. But after Southeastern's two leading scorers -- Matthew Ramsey and Shea Flesner --fouled out, the Suns didn't have many scoring options left in a 45-40 loss at the Hancock County Tournament.
"Right now, we're this close to being a good team," said Fox, whose team is now 9-8 after dropping its first two games of the tournament by a total of seven points. "What we're asking them to do is difficult. We're asking them to learn to be competitive and win at the same time, which is hard to do in one year. That's usually a three-year process."
The Suns took their biggest lead of the game at 32-28 when Derrick Bostic made a 3-pointer at the third-quarter buzzer. During Keokuk's first possession of the fourth quarter, Ramsey fouled out and Kendall Clark made a free throw to start a 7-2 run which put the Chiefs ahead 35-34 on Jonny Dahl's basket with 5:04 left.
Southeastern regained a 37-35 lead a few seconds later when Flesner scored off Winston Smith's assist. But Keokuk (9-2) answered with a 7-0 run, extending its lead to 42-36 on Dan Williams' two free throws when Flesner fouled out with 57.2 seconds left.
"I'm proud of the way our team battled against a very talented team for 32 minutes," Fox said. "We're getting better every time out. We're better than we were a month ago, even a week ago."
Ryan Slater led the Suns with 13 points and Flesner added 10. Keokuk, which won its seventh straight game, was led by Clark with 15 points and Williams with 14.