Men's College Basketball

Defensive-minded Trail Blazers lock in

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Mar. 6, 2019 12:01 am Updated: Mar. 7, 2019 7:10 am

QUINCY -- Fifteen minutes or so after the John Wood Community College men's basketball team eliminated Danville from the Region 24 Tournament with a 63-46 victory Wednesday night, the scoreboards in the Student Activity Center remained illuminated.

That happened to catch Gentry Whiteman's eye as he talked about the Trail Blazers' defensive effort.

"Forty-six?" said the sophomore guard, tilting his head somewhat in disbelief. "If that's true."

The scoreboard didn't lie.

"That says it all right there," Whiteman said.

The Trail Blazers limited the Jaguars to just two field goals over the first 15 minutes of the second half and just seven field goals in each half. Danville shot 28.6 percent from the field, 14.3 percent from 3-point range and didn't score on back-to-back possessions over a 28-minute stretch.

"It was definitely all about defense," JWCC sophomore guard Cory Miller Jr. said. "We talked about finishing plays defensively, and it showed."

It has the Trail Blazers two victories away from an NJCAA Division II national tournament berth.

Third-seeded JWCC (17-13) will face second-seeded Rend Lake at 3 p.m. Saturday on the Illinois Central College campus in East Peoria. The winner advances to the championship at 2 p.m. Sunday.

The Trail Blazers and Warriors split two regular-season meetings with JWCC winning 75-64 at home in November and losing 64-62 on the road in December when Rend Lake hit a shot at the buzzer off a blocked 3-pointer.

"We kind of have a chip on our shoulder," Whiteman said.

Maybe that will inspire a better offensive start.

The Trail Blazers failed to score over the game's first 4 minutes, 31 seconds and were in a 5-0 hole until Whiteman buried a 3-pointer from the top of the key. It kickstarted a 12-0 run as JWCC never trailed again.

"If our defense isn't there, it's a bigger hole to climb out of," said Whiteman, who scored a game-high 22 points.

JWCC's defense changed the tone of the game late in the first half. After Danville recovered from JWCC's run and tied the game at 19 with 6:13 remaining in the first half, the Trail Blazers went on a 10-3 run to take a 29-22 lead into halftime.

The Jaguars missed three shots and committed five turnovers on their final 10 possessions of the half.

"I thought we guarded at a really, really high level," JWCC coach Brad Hoyt said. "And we had to because offensively we weren't great. At this time of the year, if you can defend, you give yourself a chance."

But he didn't want to settle for another inefficient half offensively. JWCC shot just 33.3 percent over the first 20 minutes.

"Coach definitely set the tone in the locker room at halftime," said Miller, who finished with 14 points, five rebounds and two steals. "He was not happy. We were not happy. We thought we played really bad in the first half, so we had to come out with a little bit of fire under us."

The Trail Blazers scored the first seven points of the second half and pushed the lead to 54-32 points on Whiteman's 3-pointer with eight minutes to play. Although the Jaguars made a late run to get within 16, they couldn't overcome going 2 of 18 from the field over a 15-minute span.

"We have to play at our pace better," Miller said. "We definitely need to improve and prep this week. But defend like that and we'll be fine."

Region 24 Tournament

John Wood 63, Danville 46

DANVILLE (12-15)

Lowery 4-10 0-3 8, Lowden 1-7 0-0 3, Wilson 2-11 4-6 8, Sultzer 0-3 5-5 5, Kalber 0-2 1-4 1, Ivy 3-7 4-5 11, Caldwell 3-4 1-2 7, Rohrbach 1-1 0-0 2, Norman 0-4 1-2 1, Reed 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 14-49 16-27 46.

JWCC (17-13)

Easter 2-4 0-0 4, Whiteman 8-11 1-2 22, Cramsey 0-4 0-0 0, Miller 5-13 4-7 14, Jefferson 1-4 2-2 4, Rumbo 0-4 0-0 0, Talton 0-1 0-0 0, Jackson 1-3 2-3 4, Morrison 0-0 0-0 0, Billings 0-0 1-2 1, Bevans 2-8 5-7 9, Bottorff 2-6 1-2 5, Gadeke 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 21-59 16-25 63.

Halftime score--JWCC 29, Danville 22. 3-point field goals--Danville 2-14 (Ivy 1-4, Lowden 1-3, Norman 0-4, Lowery 0-1, Wilson 0-1, Sultzer 0-1), JWCC 5-15 (Whiteman 5-8, Miller 0-2, Bottorff 0-2, Rumbo 0-1, Jackson 0-1, Bevans 0-1). Rebounds--Danville 35 (Lowery 12), JWCC 41 (Jefferson 8). Assists--Danville 3 (Wilson 2), JWCC 7 (Jackson 3). Steals--Danville 8 (Lowery 3), JWCC 9 (Bottorff 3). Blocked shots--Danville 4 (Lowden 2), JWCC 2 (Jefferson, Bottorff). Turnovers--Danville 19, JWCC 15. Fouls--Danville 21, JWCC 20. Fouled out--Lowery. Technical fouls--Kalber.