The Russellville Indians boys basketball team (2-5) suffered a loss to the St. Elizabeth Hornets 70-51 on Dec. 21, a more competitive clash than the final score would imply.
In the first quarter, the Indians trailed 10-2 with 5:39 to go when a three-point play by Charlie Miller cut St. Elizabeth’s lead in half to make it a 10-5 game with 5:25 left in the quarter. The Indians went on to tie the game at 10 with just more than 4:00 to go before the second quarter. A three-pointer by Miller gave the Indians their only lead of the game at 14-12 with just less than 2:00 to go in the quarter. St. Elizabeth ended the quarter on an 8-2 run to take a 20-16 lead into the next period.
In the second quarter, the Hornets began to pull away, outscoring the Indians 18-5 to make it a 38-21 game at halftime.
Russellville head coach Greg Koetting said turnovers were the big difference between the first and second quarters.
“Turnovers have been our Achilles heel all year,” Koetting said. “I told the players after the game, cut the turnovers down, that would have been a single-digit game and you never know what might have happened.”
Koetting said he saw improvements from the team during the game, but there are still some things to work on.
“Our defense is getting better,” Koetting said. “But we have to do a better job blocking on the boards, but St. Elizabeth is bigger than us. Mainly it is the turnovers, we have to cut the turnovers down.”
The Indians worked to slowly cut into the Hornets’ lead at the start of the second half as they made it a 13-point game at 45-32 with just more than 3:00 to go in the quarter. However, St. Elizabeth responded with another run, this time 7-2, to make it a 52-34 game at the end of the third quarter.
Russellville again tried to cut into the lead, as a three-pointer by Jesse Daniels made it a 52-37 game to open the final quarter. Chris Seaver followed it up by converting a three-point play to make it 54-40, before making two more free throws to make it 54-42 with just more than 5:00 left on the clock. Then, the Indians stole the ball and scored to make it 54-44 with less than 5:00 to go. Another big run by St. Elizabeth — this time a 10-0 run — canceled out the Indians’ momentum and made it a 64-44 game with around 2:00 left in the game. The Indians were not able to cut into the 20-point deficit by much in the final minutes of the game, as the Hornets came out on top.
Charlie Miller led the Indians with 16 points, followed by Daniels and Seaver with 11 points each. Russellville forced a lot of fouls, ultimately going 14-20 from the free throw line and made seven three-pointers in the game. St. Elizabeth went 5-6 from the free throw line and made nine three-pointers.
Russellville was able to convert multiple three-point plays during the game. Koetting said plays like that can get the enthusiasm of the team up.
“I saw more enthusiasm from the bench tonight,” Koetting said. “I am always telling them, take the ball to the hole if you get a chance; you might have to fake it once or twice, but take the ball to the hole and don’t settle for the outside shot. When they do take it to the hole and get those baskets and ones, the old fashioned three I like to call them, that does a lot.”
Koetting said the team is getting there. At their current rate, the Indians have a good chance to improve on last season’s record.
“We only won five games last year and we are 2-5 now. If we can beat Belle next week, we will be at three wins by January,” he said.
The Indians’ next game is at 6 p.m. Jan. 5 at California.