After his team's sixth loss in seven games, United Township boys' basketball coach Marc Polite is ready to move on from moral victories to tangible ones.|
In the wake of a late offensive foul that prevented a potential shot at tying the game in the Panthers' 61-58 nonconference loss to Davenport West Tuesday night at the Panther Den in East Moline, Polite also knows the road doesn't get any easier for his team.
"With our schedule the way it is, we don't get any breaks,'' he stated. "We've got Rock Island coming up on Friday. Moral victories are starting to get old. We've got to find ways to win games.''
After Deveric Rogers nailed a 3-pointer to give the Panthers just their second lead of the night at 49-48 with 5:15 left in the fourth quarter, the Falcons (2-1) responded with a 9-2 run to go up 57-51, a lead they would maintain although UT had one more comeback left.
Closing the gap to 60-58 with 6.9 seconds remaining on a Javen Goodwin bucket, United Township got the ball back trailing by three, and was aiming to set up a game-tying shot. But on a collision between UT's Ryan Merideth and West's Nasir Shabazz, Merideth was whistled for an offensive foul, giving the ball back to West, which ran out the clock.
"That was terrible, a bad call,'' Polite said emphatically, before adding, "But, that's the game. We had other opportunities to put ourselves in better position. You put the game in the ref's hands, and it's 50-50 you're going to get the right call. We feel like we had something good set up for an open shot.''
Early on, it seemed as if the Falcons were ready to fly away as they raced out to a 10-2 lead, with junior Geo Butler scoring 10 of his 18 points in the first quarter, But with Goodwin hitting a pair of 3-balls and Lamont Mitchell bagging a trey, UT whittled the deficit down to 19-15 by period's end.
"We worked and persevered through some things,'' said Polite. "We kept fighting, and finding ways to score.''
With Mitchell netting 16 points and six rebounds and Rogers adding 14, the Panthers kept plugging away. The hosts took their first lead late in the second quarter at 26-25 on a Keegan Wenskunas trey, settling for a 29-29 halftime deadlock.
However, West was able to counter UT's efforts with balanced scoring led by Marlon Stewart (19 points), Butler and Jerry Myles (13 points, eight rebounds). With the Panthers going cold to start the third, the Falcons used an 11-3 spurt to go up 40-32. Once again, the hosts showed their mettle by closing the gap to 43-42 entering the fourth quarter.
"I've said all year that this is a learning pace for our guys,'' said Polite. "Hopefully we can keep on learning, but I'd like for us to learn with some wins.''
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