WHEELING -- A road matinee after a prime-time horror show usually spells more doom and gloom for the visiting victims.|
But instead of feeling sorry for itself Saturday, the Moline boys' basketball team overcame a glum situation by taking control from the tip before holding off a furious fourth-quarter comeback by the hosts, 58-52 at Wheeling.
The decision allowed the Maroons (9-8) to bounce back from a 30-point blowout at arch-rival Rock Island before resuming Western Big 6 Conference action Friday at United Township.
"This is a long way to go for a win, but after (Friday), it was well worth it,'' Moline coach Jeff Schimmel said. "We needed to get a little of the bad taste out of our mouths and get something positive going into next week.''
The three-hour bus ride to Chicago's Northwest Suburbs necessitated a 9 a.m. Moline departure for the 2:30 p.m. varsity tipoff.
The earlier-than-normal start was forced when Moline requested the game to be moved from Feb. 9, a night after the Maroons are scheduled to drive three hours south to visit Quincy. However, Wheeling already had a girls' game scheduled Saturday night.
"We had it moved up so we wouldn't have to do all of that traveling in one weekend,'' Schimmel said, mulling the mileage of a Quincy-Wheeling weekend."This really wasn't bad at all. With school, the kids are used to getting up earlier, so they actually got to sleep in a little bit.''
The Maroons showed few effects from the quick turnaround, jumping out to a 14-4 edge in the first four minutes and leading by as many as 15 points in the final seconds of the third quarter.
Wheeling (3-15) came roaring back late, though, with a trio of triples from Nick Riccardo (20 points) before another 3-ball from Jeremy Stephani (game-high 22 points) allowed the Wildcats to claw as close as three points with 2 minutes and 40 seconds remaining.
However, Tyler Biscontine (team-best 18 points) answered with a trey of his own, on a kickout by Moline big man Brandon Vice (14 points, five rebounds, five assists). Drew Owens (five assists, four steals) kept Wheeling from getting any closer by hitting 3-of-4 free throws at one of his grandfather Mike's old coaching stops.
"Giving up a lead again was mainly because they got hot,'' said Schimmel, whose young-and-inexperienced club has turned a handful of late leads into losses this season. "They were making some pretty deep 3s. Luckily, they missed a couple of deep ones late that were going in earlier, so we held on.''
Wheeling finished 12-of-29 from long distance while Moline was a more economical 5-of-10 to go 23-for-37 from the field, led by Biscontine (6-for-8), Vice (7-of-8) and Jed Wood (6-of-9 for 13 points).
"We know Tyler can shoot the ball, but that was his first good shooting game since his first start (at DeKalb's Chuck Dayton Classic before Christmas),'' Schimmel said. "We just need some more confidence and consistency from him. He makes us a difficult team to guard, because most teams try and take Drew away. But Tyler can really relieve that pressure.''
The only downer of the day was Moline's 7-for-14 performance at the free-throw line.
"If we hit our free throws, it's a double-digit win instead of sweating one out late,'' Schimmel said."To go from the Thanksgiving Tournament, when everyone was praising us for hitting 88 percent, to now, we're down to about 60-percent, means we still have a lot of work to do.''
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