Coming off their biggest win of the season against Jefferson, the Belvidere Bucs were hoping to play the same kind of game against Boylan last Friday. It was successful at first as the Bucs and the Titans were tied 4 – 4 halfway through the first quarter. However, the Titans pulled ahead for good with a trio of three-point shots to end the first quarter with a 19 – 8 lead. By contrast, the Bucs were only able to make three three-pointers all night. Boylan had a 14 point lead going into halftime. On the defensive side, the Titans controlled Jason Fiske, limiting him to just nine points. While the Bucs were able to spread out their offense – eight different players scored – it just wasn’t their night. The Titans beat the Bucs 68 – 44.
The Bucs returned home Saturday night, taking on Hononegah. The Indians had played Jefferson tough the night before, losing by just six points. The Bucs started strong. Anthony Goransen scored the first two points in the paint. Hononegah came back to tie, but Nick Wirth drained a three point shot to give the Bucs the lead. The Bucs went back to their strategy of holding the ball as long as possible, passing it around the perimeter until a shot opened up. On the other side, the Indians struggled to find an offensive strategy that would work. They took a page out of Belvidere’s book in the first quarter. The ball went back and forth a dozen times until Adam Heaton stole it away for the Bucs. Jason Fiske found a three point shot. Anthony Goransen was fouled and made both his free throws. The Bucs had the lead 14 – 9 at the end of the first period.
While they never lost the lead in the second period, Hononegah kept it close. The Indians mixed up their offense in an attempt to pull Belvidere away from their defensive positions under the basket. It didn’t work. The Bucs stayed close to the paint, limiting the Indians to just two offensive rebounds all quarter. In the last two minutes, the Bucs just held the ball, nursing a two point lead. Nick Wirth was fouled with nine seconds left and shot one for two of his free throws. The Bucs were up 21 – 18 at the half.
The Bucs traded shots with the Indians in the first half of the third period. Jason Fiske scored from under the basket, but the Indians came right back with a score of their own. Nick Wirth was fouled again and made both his free throws. But Mike George found a three point shot to cut the Bucs lead down to two. Warren McCarty found another three point shot later to cut the lead to one and a lay up by Rick McDonald gave them their first lead of the night with about five minutes to go. The Bucs took a time out to regroup. They got the ball back. Adam Heaton missed a shot, but Anthony Goransen picked up the rebound and scored to give the Bucs a 29 – 28 lead. However, it didn’t last long. McCarty was fouled and made both his free throws and David Frank scored after the Bucs lost the ball. The Bucs took another time out and went back to their strategy of ball control and waiting for the right shot to come along. And it did with three minutes left in the period; David Howe found a three point shot to tie the game at 32 apiece. Both teams’ shooting went cold until the Indians were able to capitalize on mistakes made by the Bucs with four free throws at the end of the quarter. Rick McDonald made both of his and gave the Indians the lead again 34 – 32.
The Indians kept the lead and got up by as much as four points. The Bucs played cool, still holding the ball and looking for the right shot. It almost did them in though as time was running out. Nick Wirth found a three point shot with nine seconds left to get the Bucs to within one. The Bucs took another time out. Brock Johnston took it inbound for the Indians and was immediately fouled by the Bucs. This should have been a safe bet; he hadn’t scored all night. However, he made both his free throws and made it a three point game with 7.7 seconds left on the clock. The Bucs got the ball back. Tyler Pearse took the ball down court, found Nick Wirth who shot a three point shot at the buzzer. The game was tied at 42 and went into overtime.
Ironically, the Bucs got their biggest lead of the night in overtime. Belvidere was no longer content to run out the clock. Nick Wirth continued to shoot well, getting two points and a foul. He made the free throw to give the Bucs a three point advantage. Tyler Pearse was fouled and made it a four point lead. Jason Fiske stole the ball away from the Indians to make a lay up. The Bucs took a six point lead. Pearse was fouled again and this time made both his free throws. The Bucs were up 50 – 42. Hononegah was unable to get much going and fouling the Bucs to get the ball back turned out not to be such a good idea. Belvidere made 14 of 15 free throws in overtime to win 60 – 49.
The Bucs took on Rockford East at home on Wednesday night. The results were unavailable at press time. The Bucs travel to Machesney Park avenge their loss to Harlem (10 – 12, 4 – 6 in the NIC-9) on Friday night. When these two teams met in December, they were evenly matched. The lead changed hands half a dozen times and the game came down to a last second shot for the Bucs. They missed and lost the game 48 – 47. On Saturday, the Bucs host Dundee-Crown. Both games begin at 7:30.