Men's College Basketball

Defense lets Trail Blazers down in second half

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Feb. 16, 2020 12:01 am

QUINCY -- The John Wood Community College men's basketball team lost more than the basketball on its first three possessions of the second half.

It lost all control.

The Trail Blazers led No. 20 Parkland 33-22 at halftime Saturday afternoon at the Student Activity Center, having taken advantage of Aaron Shoot's steady hand in the first half. The freshman point guard had 11 points and ran an offense responsible for nine assists on 12 field goals with just four turnovers.

However, JWCC turned the ball over three times on the first three possessions of the second half, leading to three straight field goals for Parkland as the Cobras rallied for a 74-68 victory in Mid-West Athletic Conference play.

"That played a part in our energy," JWCC sophomore forward Chandler Bevans said. "We came out at halftime amped up, and we lost it."

The Trail Blazers (13-14, 3-2 MWAC) never really got it back, especially on the defensive end.

After holding the Cobras to 29.6 percent shooting from the field in the first half, the Trail Blazers allowed them to go 20 of 37 from the field in the second half (54.1 percent) and 6 of 14 from 3-point range (42.9 percent).

"They started being a little bit more aggressive offensively and shot us out of that zone," Shoot said. "Once we went man, they started making plays and said, ‘If you're not going to guard us, we're going to score.' That's what happened."

When that didn't work, the Cobras outhustled and outmuscled the Trail Blazers for the rebound.

Parkland (19-5, 4-1 MWAC) owned a 26-14 edge on the boards in the second half and a 44-38 advantage overall. The Cobras grabbed 10 offensive rebounds, nine after halftime.

"They did a really good job crashing the offensive boards," said Shoot, who had a game-high 22 points and four assists. "Our bigs were doing their best boxing out, but we didn't have all five guys going to the glass."

Parkland took its first lead at 49-48 with 9:33 remaining and broke a 54-54 tie with a 3-pointer from Kamari Kenemore with five minutes to play. It started a stretch in which the Cobras scored on 12 of its final 13 possessions.

Meanwhile, trailing 65-62 with 1:38 remaining, John Wood missed three consecutive shots and saw its rally stall.

"We just have to keep fighting for progress," said Bevans, who finished with 19 points and 13 rebounds. "We have to come into every game with high intensity and a good approach."

The Trail Blazers have five regular-season game remaining -- three in the MWAC and an in-region game -- to get themselves ready for the Region 24 Tournament, which will be held March 7-8 at the Student Activity Center.

"The best thing to do is win out, keep getting better every single game and hopefully we get to see them again in the region tournament and come away with a victory," Shoot said.