Belton played hard and had some shining moments from key players in the fifth place game against Ruskin of the Raymore-Peculiar Sonic Shootout Dec. 7. But the Pirates were missing some key elements and lost the game 68-47.
“We had three key points of emphasis going into this game,” Belton head coach Greg Martin said. “Be strong on the defensive boards, control the penetration and take care of the ball. We did not accomplish any of these parts of the game. Ruskin dominated us inside, scoring 54 points in the paint off the dribble penetration and 20 of those points were the results of an offensive rebound. We got pushed around.”
The Pirates did have a tough first quarter, scoring only four points, on two free throws from junior forward Lewis Wilkins and a basket from sophomore forward Christian Asaeli to Ruskin’s 17 points.
The second quarter went slightly better, as Belton peppered in points between Eagle scores, but Ruskin still led 36-17 at halftime.
In the third quarter, after two baskets in a row from Ruskin, Belton senior forward Caleb Padgett sunk a three-pointer to make the score 40-20. But the Eagles responded with two more shots. Belton senior guard Sean Lewis made a bucket, which was followed by a Ruskin free throw. After a free throw from Belton’s Wilkins, Ruskin sunk two more shots to go up 49-23.
The Pirates retaliated with a basket from Wilkins and a three-pointer from senior guard Ben Long, but Ruskin went on a 6-0 run to end out the quarter with a 55-28 advantage.
Belton put up a basket right away in the fourth quarter from Padgett followed by two free throws from Wilkins. After a Ruskin score, Asaeli hit a free throw and Padgett sunk a three-pointer, plus sophomore guard Louis McKamey hit a bucket to make the score 57-38. Belton outscored Ruskin 20-13 in the fourth quarter, but it wasn’t enough to come back.
“Out of the 54 points, 26 were fast break points off of 17 turnovers we committed, which is just under one-third of our offensive possessions,” Martin said. “It is difficult to be successful when you cannot be proficient in these three areas. We were not against Ruskin and the result was a loss.”
Belton was led in scoring by Wilkins with 13 points, followed by Padgett with nine points and Asaeli with six points. Long and Daren Johnson had five points each and Nico Phillipp had four points. McKamey and Lewis added two points apiece.
The Pirates, 1-3, slipped past Barstow 56-50 in the semifinal game Dec. 5.
“The first win is always the hardest,” Martin said. “This was a good win for us. Barstow is a solid, smart team, and the guys fought hard down the stretch and made some key free throws to come out on top. We are a young team and are turning the ball over way too much. As these guys grow more comfortable in the offense and stop trying to force the action and let the game come to them, we will be much more efficient with the ball. Less turnovers is a major focus for this team, we have to value the basketball better.”
Belton was led in scoring by Wilkins with 22 points, McKamey with 12 points and Josh Hicks with seven points.