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Neighbors Growing Together | Aug 15, 2018

Cardinal boys’ play host to Pekin basketball Tuesday

By Justin Webster | Nov 30, 2017
Photo by: JUSTIN WEBSTER/Ledger photo Pekin senior No. 11 Levi Long has his shot attempt rejected by Cardinal senior No. 20 Wyatt Gatton Tuesday night.

Cardinal hosted the Pekin boys’ basketball team in the second game of a double-header Tuesday night near Eldon, losing to the Panthers 64-17.

The Comets were competitive out of the gate, and Head Coach Michael Strasko said they were doing what they needed to keep it close. “I think we came out with the right intensity,” said the first-year Cardinal coach.

“We were quick on defense, stopping drives and forcing long difficult shots. We didn’t defensive rebound as well as we wanted to but we were able to stick close early, running our offense, and finding the open guy. Everything we wanted to start out, we did, except for defensive rebounding, but we knew that was going to be tough tonight with their physicality and size.”

At the end of one it was 13-7 in favor of the visiting Panthers, giving the Comets hope, but the middle two quarters was when Pekin pulled more-than-away, outscoring Cardinal 49-6 to seal the victory. Cardinal actually outscored Pekin 4-2 in the fourth quarter when the outcome had long been decided.

Pekin’s Head Coach Ken Hutchinson talked about his team’s effort Tuesday night.

“I think we shared the ball, that’s kind of been our thing so far this season. I thought tonight we passed the ball and shared it really well. We’ve struggled with decision making, but it’s early in the season. I don’t think all of our guys understand spacing yet in our motion. Our continuity and pick and roll stuff is still rusty, but at least we’re willing to share the ball.”

I asked coach Strasko what he said to his team, trailing by 25 at the half.

“I have to continue to remind myself that I didn’t have these guys for four years. There’s going to be things for players who are seniors after I’ve had them for four years, that I will expect them to know. Sometimes, I have to stop and say, ‘Have you ever done this?’ which is going to be difficult for me.”

I asked coach Hutch what he has to do to compete against the deeper, more experienced teams in the SEISC.

“It’s hard to not be complacent. That’s the biggest thing because Cardinal has had years, where they’ve been down athletically, but they’ve challenged us all the way to the end, and beat us a year or two when they shouldn’t have, just because we weren’t being competitive and we became complacent. If we can figure a way to not be complacent, and we can work on those little things, when the tougher teams in the conference come around, we’ll be able to compete with them.”

Statiscal leaders for the victorious Panthers were Levin Long with 11 points, three rebounds, assists and steals and two blocks. Cameron Millikin also had 11 points to go with three boards and six assists. Kennan Winn had eight points, five rebounds and an assist, while Caleb Comstock also had eight points but his stat line included one board, one assist and four steals. The leading rebounder was Dayne Eckley who had four points, six rebounds, an assist, two steals and a block.

Cardinal did not post or share their stats following the game, but Coach Strasko did say that his team needs to come to practice everyday and have it be the best practice of the year.

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