It was a colorful crowd at Belvidere High School Friday night. A number of the band members were dressed like Disney characters. Favorite teachers sported Bucs jerseys and were honored by the players in a ceremony at half-time. While the crowd may have been colorful, the game was primarily dominated by black and white as the Auburn Knights came up winners.
The Bucs took control after the opening jumper, but were unable to score on a three point shot. The Knights grabbed the rebound and took it back the other direction. Deauntea Tatum moved just inside the perimeter for the first score of the night. The Bucs stiffened up their inside defense, but the Knights worked the outside until Kwan Waller landed a three point shot. The Bucs took control, looking for a shot. Tim Ryan was fouled and went to the line, but was unable to make either free throw. The Knights grabbed the ball, using their quickness to dash down the court. They missed and Dustin Boardman came up with Belvidere’s first board for the night. Both teams went back and forth with the ball. The Knights darting defense snatched the ball away twice, but they were unable to capitalize. The Bucs took a timeout to take stock of the situation. It would get worse before it would get better. Avery Johnson dropped one in from the key to take a 7 – 0 lead. The Bucs missed a three pointer, but Brandon Smaha was there for the rebound. They passed it around outside until Dustin Boardman tried a shot inside. It missed, but David Howe came up with a second rebound. He shot quickly and missed, but Tim Ryan grabbed the ball and they passed it around the perimeter until Ryan spotted Matt Barr inside for their first score of the night with 3:21 left in the period. The Knights continued to gang up on Belvidere, leading 11 – 2 before Matt Barr found a jump shot. Two plays later, Barr stole the ball away and made a lay-up to wake the crowd up. The Knights continued to work to break up the Bucs offense, but were unable to score when they did break it up. Meanwhile, Matt Barr found another two points at the top of the paint and Tim Ryan passed inside to Dustin Boardman for another score. A.J. Bonner was fouled and went to the line for the Knights. He missed both shots and Matt Barr came up with the ball with 5 seconds left. He got it as far as mid-court and launched it at the buzzer. No score, but the Bucs had crawled back from the depths, only down 15 – 10.
Belvidere stepped up their inside defense and basically denied the Knights anything inside the perimeter. Auburn took a 30 second time out with 5:38 left, but except for running time off the clock, they were unable to do much. Meanwhile, Chad Schwebke made his presence known with key rebounds under the basket. After a missed shot by Auburn, he grabbed the board, passed to Matt Barr. Barr took it down court, gave it to Dustin Boardman who scored on a turn around jump shot and cut the Knights lead to three. A.J. Bonner drove inside, but missed the shot and Chad Schwebke grabbed another rebound. Ten seconds later, Tim Ryan lobbed in a three pointer from the extreme left side to tie the game. The Knights came right back with a three pointer of their own, but the Bucs had come to life. Chad Schwebke scored from the paint and when Auburn took it the other direction, Aaron Leonard stole the ball away. Matt Barr took a pass and made a lay-up to give the Bucs a 21 – 20 lead with 2:55 left in the half. Sadly, the Bucs shooting went cold while the Knights went on a 7 – 0 run. Belvidere got the ball back with less than 20 seconds left. Tim Ryan was backed up, but managed to score several feet out from the three point line at the buzzer to bring the Bucs within three, 27 – 24.
Unfortunately, the Bucs shooting continued to suffer in the third period while the Knights extended their lead on a 6 – 0 run during the first three minutes of the game. After a full time out, the Bucs were unable to hit a three point shot. The Knights missed and Matt Barr came up with the rebound. But a bad pass inside was picked up by Deauntea Tatum who took it coast to coast for a lay-up. David Howe ended the Bucs scoring drought with a three pointer with 4:24 left in the period. A.J. Bonner tried a lay up, but was denied. David Howe grabbed the board, passed it to Tim Ryan. Dustin Boardman picked it up on the other side of the court for two. That was the end of the Bucs offense in the third period. While they were able to find shots and some inspired moves drew off the Auburn defenders, the Bucs were unable to get the ball in the basket. Meanwhile, the Knights only shot three for eight and missed two free throws. That still added up to a 6 – 0 run in the last 3:14 and gave Auburn a 41 – 29 lead.
The Bucs shooting woes continued into the fourth period. Matt Barr finally snapped the scoreless streak with a two point jumper with 6:59 left in the game. Still, that was the rare highlight as the Knights ran up to a 49 – 35 lead with five minutes left in the game and began to concentrate on taking time off the clock. The Bucs were forced to foul to try to get the ball back. Deauntea Tatum went to the line, but missed both shots. Dustin Boardman got the rebound, but the Bucs couldn’t score. The Knights rebounded, but it went out of bounds. Matt Barr passed to Dustin Boardman for a lay up. Montairo Hopson took it inbounds and Aaron Leonard snatched it away and made another lay-up to get the Bucs within 10. Unfortunately, there just wasn’t enough time left. The Bucs went four for thirteen in the last three minutes, got back to within ten, but the Knights scored ten of sixteen from the free throw line as the Bucs fouled to stop the clock. In the end, that was more than enough. The Knights finished the night 61 – 48 winners with four players in double digits. Dustin Boardman led the Bucs with 15, Matt Barr ended with 14 for the night.
Things improved on the road Saturday for the Bucs. Led by Dustin Boardman’s 21 points, they squeaked past the J-Hawks 56 – 54 to sweep Jefferson this season.
It’s Senior Night Friday for the Bucs as they take on the Harlem Huskies. Harlem is coming off a tough loss to the J-Hawks last Friday. The Bucs are hoping for a repeat of their 54 – 50 win last month. The game begins at 7:30. Saturday night, the Bucs travel to Sycamore to take on the Spartans in a non-conference game. Sycamore is 11 – 7 after losing to Geneva in a close 54 – 52 game last week. That game begins at 7:00.