The Belvidere Bucs kicked off their 2004 – 2005 basketball season last week, co-hosting the Hoops for Healing tournament with Woodstock High School. While the tournament raised money for the American Cancer Society, it also gave the Bucs a chance to play against a number of teams from the Fox Valley Conference, each playing a different style of basketball. The results were mixed. Belvidere finished the tournament with a 2 – 3 record. However, the Bucs feel the experience of the games put them on the right path to take on the teams in the NIC-9.
The Bucs went 9 – 17 last year, with a 7 – 9 record in the NIC-9. That was good enough for a fifth place finish. Four starters from last year return this year, including senior Jason Fiske, who led the Bucs in scoring last season. He averaged 12 points per game. Nick Wirth also returns along with Anthony Goransen and Mark Weiland. Junior Matt Barr will be starting as well. The names should sound familiar. Four of Belvidere’s starting line-up played football for the Bucs up until a couple of weeks ago.
Unfortunately, there may have not been enough time between seasons to make the transition. In the opening game last Monday against Prairie Ridge, the Bucs lost 67 – 48. The Wolves controlled the ball with a strong defense. Jason Fiske was held to just 10 points, Matt Barr was held to 8. Prairie Ridge went on to win the tournament.
While Matt Barr was able to double his scoring output in the game against Cary-Grove on Tuesday, it still wasn’t enough. Jason Fiske contributed 14 points in a losing effort against the Trojans: 62 – 49. Cary-Grove senior Kyle Wilson led everyone with 23 points.
On Wednesday, the Bucs picked up their first win of the season against McHenry, 60 – 54. McHenry – with only one returning senior – went 0 – 4 in the tournament.
On Friday, the Bucs traded quarters with Crystal Lake Central. After the first quarter, Belvidere was up 18 – 3. However, the Tigers came back in the second quarter and by halftime the Bucs lead had eroded to just a one point game. Central tried to put the game away, leading by seven points late in the fourth quarter, but the Bucs went on a 16 – 6 run and seemed to have the game in hand with time running out. Tigers junior Joe Capalbo took the ball at mid court and launched a three point shot at the buzzer. The shot was good, the score was tied 48 – 48, and the game went into overtime. The Bucs took an early lead, but another Tigers buzzer beater tied it at 56. Fatigue began to show in the second overtime as both teams managed to score only 4 points a piece. In the third overtime, Crystal Lake Central went on an 11 – 1 run and finally overcame the Bucs, 74 – 64.
Saturday, the Bucs traveled to Woodstock to play the hosting Blue Streaks. While Woodstock led at the half, the Bucs were able to come back in the second half with a solid shooting game from everyone on the court. Nick Wirth led the Bucs with 10 points, but 4 other Bucs scored 9 points each. The Bucs finished the tournament with a 48 – 40 win.
The Bucs play their NIC-9 opener on the road on Friday against the Freeport Pretzels. Like Belvidere, four starters are returning. And like the Bucs, the Pretzels are feeling some of the after effects of a football team that did well. Most of the players started practice a week later than usual and senior Eli Brouhard broke his arm during the playoffs and isn’t going to play in Friday’s game. However, the Bucs will have their hands full defending against Willie Veasley who averaged 14.7 points per game last season and Jordan Wakely who averaged 9.3. Last year, the Pretzels went 17 – 10 (12 – 4 in the NIC-9), which was good enough for third place. In the Boylan tournament this past week the Pretzels went 3 – 1, including two overtime wins. The game starts at 7:30 pm.