United Township's Trevor May had seen enough.|
A nine-game losing streak. Growing pains all season. A second-half comeback by Alleman.
The only returning starter from last season's Panthers did something about all of that Friday night, erupting for 13 of his team-best 15 points in the fourth quarter to help the hosts hold off the Pioneers, 57-47.
The Western Big 6 Conference boys' basketball win at East Moline's Panther Den was the second this season over Alleman (6-16, 1-7) by UT (4-19, 2-6), breaking a last-place league tie between the two.
"We've been so close so many times this season, it was about time we pulled it off,'' May said, pointing to a series of near-misses last month.
"It's been a frustrating season, but we have a group of guys who don't like to lose and that keep coming back to work hard every day to get better and tonight it finally paid off.''
The junior made sure that happened with a fourth-quarter flurry to answer Alleman's rally from a 16-point, second-half deficit.
Behind senior guard Adam Hoogerwerf and his game-high 22 points, the depleted Pioneers clawed back to within two points with 5 1/2 minutes remaining.
That's when May hit a pair of 3-pointers, giving the Panthers just enough cushion on a night when UT inducted its 1970 boys' basketball state runner-up into the school's Hall of Fame.
"Both of them came on set plays,'' May said. "I came off screens and they sagged off me. They didn't want me to get to the basket, so I just took the open looks. Those gave us the confidence we could win.''
UT coach Marc Polite said May was an appropriate hero for the Panthers.
"Trevor has been huge in this stretch, when we started playing good basketball,'' Polite said. "He's the soul of our group, taking care of the ball and playing solidly on defense. He can make shots. He's worked real hard at becoming consistent, and it finally paid off tonight.''
The setback was Alleman's seventh straight without the injured senior duo of Dan Cutkomp and John Tracey. The Pioneers also were missing season-starters Alec Diab (flu) and Joey Mihm (ineligible) this weekend.
Despite the short bench, the Pioneers were not short on effort, rallying from a game-starting 13-0 run by the Panthers.
"We had a handful of kids who haven't seen much playing time, and we started very tentative,'' Alleman coach Pat Rangel said. "But we played hard, and really stepped up in the second half and made UT beat us. They had to knock down some shots and they did.''
Besides Hoogerwerf, Rangel was most pleased with first-time varsity starter Aaron Murray, who added 10 points and a game-high 8 rebounds.
Keegan Wenskunas and Evan Spurgetis also had nine points each for UT.
"We came up on the short end,'' Rangel said, "but it's been awhile since we've seen that kind of intensity and group effort.''
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