Herald-Whig

Whiteman 'bails out' Trail Blazers' sluggish offense

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

QUINCY -- The longer the zero stayed on the scoreboard, the more reason there was for the John Wood Community College men's basketball players and coaches to get a little antsy.

They never openly showed it.

A scoreless drought to open Wednesday night's Region 24 Tournament quarterfinal against Danville lasted 4 minutes, 31 seconds and was finally snapped when Gentry Whiteman buried a 3-pointer from the top of the key moments after Trey Jefferson had a shot blocked and the Trail Blazers were forced to recycle the possession.

It released all the pressure building up inside JWCC's Student Activity Center.

"We know if it's not going in we just have to find the right guy, find the next guy and pick each other up," sophomore guard Cory Miller Jr. said.

Whiteman was that guy. His 3-pointer from the right wing with 12:53 remaining in the first half capped a 12-0 run, and the third-seeded Trail Blazers rolled to a 63-46 victory to earn a spot against second-seeded Rend Lake in the semifinals at 3 p.m. Saturday at Illinois Central College in East Peoria.

"It doesn't take much of a lead for us to feel confident," Whiteman said. "We're always pretty comfy because we know teams aren't going to make major runs on us because of our defense."

Maybe so, but the offense needs to produce better than it did Wednesday night.

The Trail Blazers shot just 35.6 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from 3-point range, but Whiteman gave them a boost when they needed it the most. He scored 11 of JWCC's first 17 points and finished with 22 points on 8-of-11 shooting from the field and 5-of-8 shooting from 3-point range.

"He bailed us out," JWCC coach Brad Hoyt said. "He made some really tough shots."

Most of his shots were in perfect rhythm.

"They know once I start making shots the only thing they're looking for is me," Whiteman said. "Shoutout to those guys for getting me the ball."

He will need more help against Rend Lake.

"In order for us to win a tournament, we have to be better collectively at the offensive end," Hoyt said. "We will be. I have all kinds of confidence that we will be going into Saturday."