CRESTON — Ignore what the calendar says because gut-check time has arrived for the Cloverleaf boys basketball team.
Second-year coach Jack Banks essentially said as much in a lengthy postgame speech Tuesday, as the still-young Colts lost a winnable non-league game to almost-as-young Norwayne 62-46.
The rebuilding Bobcats (1-1), who return only one starter (Quinn Hiles) and play four sophomores, won the second half 41-25 as Cloverleaf (0-2) slowly but surely melted under the pressure with Portage Trail Conference Metro Division contenders Coventry, Norton and Woodridge next up on the schedule.
“Today, we didn’t have any leaders step up,” Banks said. “That’s probably the most disappointing thing. Some of the kids felt sorry for themselves — woe is me.”
Multiple other issues stood out.
The first was the Colts beginning the game 1-for-15 from inside the 3-point arc despite rarely shooting between six and 18 feet and needing a garbage-time rally to finish 8-for-32. The second was making 6-of-16 free throws, while the third was three power forwards and centers not named Nick Bailey (4 points, 9 rebounds) combining for four points, 10 rebounds and seven turnovers.
Poetically, the 1-for-15 slide from two-point range ended when Bailey made an over-the-shoulder flip layup after grabbing an offensive rebound.
“We couldn’t finish a basket or layup,” Banks said. “We do finishing drills every day.”
After a duel between Cloverleaf’s Brycen Holliday (17 points, 14 in first half) and Hiles (20, 10) led to a 21-21 deadlock at recess, the rest of the game was rather simple: Hiles got help, Holliday went cold while being face-guarded by Nick Besancon and no one stepped up for the Colts.
Cloverleaf, which did get 12 points from guard Joey Maloney and seven points, 11 rebounds and four assists from wing Cruz Severson, shot 9-for-25 from the floor, 5-for-12 from the foul line and 2-for-7 from 3-point range in the second half against man defense that extended to midcourt. Holliday was 0-for-2 from the field and 3-for-4 from the foul line.
Meanwhile, Norwayne got secondary production from sophomore wing Jacob Hanzie (12 points, 3-of-3 3-pointers) and sophomore guard Ben Draper (10 points, 4 steals) while still running most of its sets for senior Hiles, who is only 5ﾽ weeks removed from breaking his shooting wrist during football.
Allowing Hiles to score was one thing. Allowing the Bobcats to mentally beat up the Colts was another.
“I thought we had them scouted well, and we did not execute or play to our capabilities,” Banks said.
Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Norwayne 62, Cloverleaf 46
CLOVERLEAF 11 10 9 16 — 46
NORWAYNE 9 12 20 21 — 62
Cloverleaf — Cruz Severson 3-0-7, Joe Rohde 0-0-0, Sylar Jones 0-0-0, Brycen Holliday 5-3-17, Joe Maloney 4-1-12, Matt Tanko 0-0-0, Travis Hissom 1-2-4, Nick Bailey 2-0-4, Tyler Webb 1-0-2, Nate Riley 0-0-0, Donovan Nichols 0-0-0. TOTALS: 16-6-46.
Norwayne — Nick Besancon 1-2-4, Dominick Roper 2-1-5, Travis Atanasov 1-0-2, Quinn Hiles 7-3-20, Ben Draper 4-1-10, Zack Schar 2-0-4, Jacob Graham 0-2-2, Justin Metsker 0-0-0, Jacob Hanzie 3-3-12, Joey Raudebaugh 0-0-0, Ameer Cunningham 0-3-3, Matt Swank 0-0-0. TOTALS: 20-15-62.
3-point goals — Holliday 4, Maloney 3, Severson, Hiles 3, Hanzie 3, Draper. Rebounds — Cloverleaf 37 (Severson 11), Norwayne 38 (Roper 7). Assists — Cloverleaf 8 (Severson 4), Norwayne 10 (Roper, Besancon, Draper 2). Records — Cloverleaf (0-2), Norwayne (1-1). Junior varsity — Norwayne 49, Cloverleaf 36.