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|Written by Tom Schultz|
Boys vs Morrison Mustangs in Regional - L 46-41
For the first regional game of the 2013 playoffs Fulton and Morrison battled it out on the court with Morrison coming out victorious 46-41. Both meetings this season between the Steamers and the Mustangs were five point games with the Mustangs taking the more important of the two games.
The first half between these two teams was relatively low scoring as both teams were taking their time on offense, playing well on defense but also committing their fair share of bad turnovers.
Morrison pulled ahead late in the first quarter, 6-4 and didn’t relinquish the lead until late in the 3rd on some Steamer sharp shooting. Fulton didn’t rebound well in the first half while Morrison wasn’t particularly shooting well going into half time. A sense of urgency could be felt by both teams as they took the court for the beginning of the 2nd half; Fulton looking to take control of the game for themselves and Morrison trying not to fold and allow the Steamers to get the lead.
The first part of the 3rd quarter continued on the same pace as the first two as neither team scored from the field in the first four minutes. Fulton had gone 3-4 from the free throw line in that time. Morrison finally sank a bucket and from there both offenses woke up.
Morrison built up a lead to 8 points and then the Steamers stormed back under a barrage of 3 point shots from Nick Fish and Matt Dail to bring the game within 2 points and less than a minute left. Cody Huff tied it up on the next possession following up his own missed shot with the offensive board and put-back to tie the game as time ran out.
Fulton had the momentum in their favor at the end of the 3rd quarter and beginning for the 4th quarter when they took the lead for the first time and were pumped up with five minutes to go in the game and Morrison seemingly calling
And change quickly it did. Morrison kept Fulton close, not letting the reigns go to far until they were able to find the chance to turn the tides back in their favor and when they did there wasn’t enough time left for Fulton to come back a second time.
The decision and execution by Morrison to switch the defenses, rotating the man-to-man, zone and press slowed the Steamers down after taking their first lead of the night in the 4th quarter for Morrison to regain the momentum and ride it to victory.
Morrison evened the season series at one game a piece but got the added edge by winning the playoff game. They move on next to play Newman on Wednesday night while the Steamers look forward to their upcoming baseball and track seasons.
Boys vs Erie Cardinals - L 78-59
The Fulton Steamers wrapped up their regular season schedule on the road playing the Erie Cardinals Friday night. The last two meetings between these two teams dating back to last season went into overtime and after the first half it looked like it would be another close match-up but the second half quickly put that theory to rest. Erie came out strong in the second half on their way to the 78-59 win over the Steamers.
The Steamers and Cardinals kept it close in the first half of play, trading off points in the first few minutes before Erie got the advantage. Both teams went on surges offensively but one would follow the other keeping the game from getting out of reach before half time.
During the first half Erie went up by 12 points and 9 points but were unable to sustain those leads as the Steamers would get a turnover and turn it into points, or a key rebound and go up the floor and knock down a three pointer.
One particular point when the momentum swung in the Steamers favor was when John Widener was up-ended going for a rebound and came down hard on his side without the foul being called. He got back up and on the next offensive play for the Steamers took the ball hard to the basket, scoring for Fulton, pumping up his teammates on the play.
The game had its physical moments and the intensity was high through the 3rd quarter, but it never got out of hand as both teams channeled the intensity into scoring on the other team and letting the score board do the talking and not the fouls. The intensity on the court did not wane with the start of the third quarter but Fulton made a few too many mistakes and the motivation of senior night for the Cardinals pushed them to take advantage of the Steamer’s miscues and build a sizeable lead.
Johnston put in 14 points in the first half leading all scorers, but really caught fire in the second half leading the Cardinals’ assault that put them ahead after 3 quarters. Erie outscored Fulton 24-13 in the third quarter on an extended run that saw nearly every Cardinal who took a shot make it.
While the Steamers end their season on a loss they look ahead with confidence to their first regional game against the Morrison Mustangs on Monday night, a team whom they beat just two weeks back.
Boys vs Prophetstown Prophets - L 60-49
Senior night for the Steamers saw them hosting the Prophetstown Prophets. The Steamers celebrated the careers of Nick Fish, TJ Huizenga and John Widener who each got a loud round of applause from the packed house at Stan Borgman Court. The Steamers, unfortunately, were unable to get the win, losing to the Prophets 60-49
The Steamers played a solid first three quarters, keeping pace with the Prophets up through most of the third quarter. Like many games this season for the Steamers turnovers hurt them. The Prophets began forcing turnovers by the Steamers that led to some easy buckets and padded their lead. Despite the turnovers the Steamers didn't break, a common as of late and nice turnover when compared to earlier in the season when the levee would break and the opposing team would go up by close to 20 points.
Overall the improvement can be seen from the beginning of the season through this game, the Steamers are taking more control of their game, making fewer mistakes and playing all around better basketball.
An example of that in Saturday's game is the offensive rebounding. While it wasn't at the level they wanted it, the Steamers were turning the handful of offensive rebounds into positive opportunities whether it was the immediate put back, Widener, Dail and Wilging each had one, or getting the ball out to the perimeter and resetting their offense for another attack on the basket.
The Steamers have two more games left in the regular season (Riverdale 2/12, Erie 2/15) before they head to the Regional playoffs next Monday
Girls vs Newman Comets at Regional - L 49-29
In Wednesday night’s regional match-up between the Fulton Steamers and Newman Comets it was the Comets who move on to the next game in the playoffs Friday night against the top team in the conference, the Riverdale Rams.
The Comets won the game 49-29 on the strength of a second half where they outscored the Steamers 27-10. At half-time the game was much closer with the Comets in the lead 22-19.
There was such a discrepancy between the two halves that it made the crowd wonder if they were watching the same game. Fulton began the scoring with a bucket from Morgan Sanquist and from there Fulton and Newman exchange the lead a few times while still staying within 5 points of each other the entirety of the first half
Fulton was led by both Morgan’s in the first half as they combined for 18 of the Steamers 19 points in the first two quarters. Wierema and Sanquist also dominated the boards well for the Steamers keeping the contest close.
Miscommunication on the floor and slow defense ravaged the second half for the Steamers. The Steamers weren't communicating well on either offense or defense, turning the ball over on the dribble or the pass while on offense, and missing assignments and not rotating like they should on defense.
Newman wasn't able to capitalize on every turnover by the Steamers but took advantage of enough of them in the second half that they were still able to win the game by 20 points. Fulton’s lack of scoring the second half was more attributed to their mistakes than Newman’s defense.
The Steamers wanted to end the season a better note than Wednesday night’s loss, as their frustration on the court showed, especially after the marked improvements they made as a team and individuals over the course of the season. The six seniors will graduate and the rest of the team will look towards next season with expectations of improving further.
Boys vs Newman Comets - L 52-43
Tuesday night at Stan Borgman Court in Fulton, the Steamers came up short in their loss to the Newman Comets. The second match up in as many weeks again went in favor of the Comets, but the Steamer put up much more of a fight and battled the entire game not letting it get out of hand.
Several times during the game Newman had the Steamers on the edge looking down at another blow out loss, but that was when Fulton would tighten up and rattle off a couple of baskets, shredding the Comets defense for a few plays to bring the game 6 or 8 points.
While this match-up was a much closer contest than last week’s game the Steamers still battled inconsistencies at times in addition to the Comets.
Keeping the Steamers within reach of the Comets in this game was their new defenses that they ran out on the floor. Fulton threw a 1-3-1 half court diamond zone and mixed in a 2-3 zone against the Comets that disrupted their offense.
Working off of the turnovers the defense was forcing and the rebounds they were grabbing the Steamers found many holes in the post against the Comets which both John Widener and Jake Wilging were ready to take full advantage of when they teammates fed them the ball.
Down by 16 mid way through the 4th Quarter the Steamers could have easily packed the game in and let the Comets take home from there, but they chose to fight instead and on a last second 3-pointer by Kyle Huebner the Steamer kept the win in double digits by the Comets. The fire from the Steamers on the court served as a reminder to Newman that the Steamers wont just roll over and lose, something that should be remembered come time for the regional playoff with the high possibility of these two teams meeting up once more.
Boys vs Morrison Mustangs - W 45-39
A rivalry renewed between the Fulton Steamers and Morrison Mustangs Friday night at Stan Borgman Court saw another battle play out, this time on the hardwood. Both teams came in evenly matched and while Fulton dangled the lead out in front of the Mustangs like a carrot on a stick, Morrison was never able to take control as the Steamers went on to the 45-39 win.
Fulton was looking for a win after three losses in double figures and having that win come against Morrison was just that much better.
Assistant Coach Mitch Van Zuiden commented on the rivalry, also pointing out that getting the win period was most important, whether or not it was against Morrison was just an added bonus.
The score was close during Friday night’s game until mid way through the 4th quarter when the Steamers had a 10 point lead for a few paces up the floor but until then neither team had been able to mount a lead more than 8 points.
Both Morrison and Fulton went on their separate runs, Morrison’s to close the gap with the Steamers, and Fulton’s to pad their lead on a couple of occasions.
For the first time this season the Steamers held the lead at the end of each quarter, the most dramatic of which was heading into half time.
With under 30 seconds left in the half Matt Dail was sent to the free throw line where he made his first free throw. His second one was just a bit off but Wilging was ready for it, getting into the lane for the rebound and quick put back for 2 giving the Steamers the 20-19 lead at the end of the 2nd quarter.
All of the Steamers on the floor contributed big plays in the win from TJ Huizenga distributing the ball and slowing the offense down so it didn’t force the pass to Nick Fish taking control on offense, banking in a three and then going aggressively to the basket. John Widener contributed key rebounds for the Steamers, setting the tone early with an offensive rebound and put back in the opening minutes of the game.
The Steamers also got big three point contributions from Devin Kuehl and Matt Dail. Kuehl’s 3 pointer was a momentum changer, ending a Mustang run and starting one for the Steamers, while several of Dail’s threes kept the lead out of Morrison’s reach.
In the only meeting this year between the Steamers and Mustangs on the basketball court, Fulton gained the bragging rights for the 2012-13 season.
Boys vs River Ridge Wildcats - L 66-48
Playing their 4th game in 5 nights the Steamers fell short for the 3rd time in a row, this time to the Wildcats. Fulton played well in the first half making up for shortcomings against the zone defense with stellar free throw shooting that lasted all game, and timely shooting.
The second half wasn't so nice. River Ridge outscored the Steamers 27-12 in the 3rd quarter turning what was a 6 point deficit into a 20 point gap.
Junior Matt Dail was lights out from behind the 3 point line nailing four 3-pointers for the Steamers in over 50% shooting from behind the arc. Kody Crosthwaite contributed 6 points and 4 rebounds for the Steamers off the bench, while John Widener took advantage of some good looks for 8 points. Unfortunately the Steamers offense was too inconsistent and for the second night in a row Nick Fish was held to 2 points, both coming from the free throw line against River Ridge as he missed all of his field goals.
After a busy last five days the Steamers have a few days to regroup and rest before taking on the rival Morrison Mustangs at home Friday night.
Boys vs Newman Comets - L 73-50
On the road at Newman Central Catholic High School on Monday night the Steamers dug themselves an early hole yet again. For the second game in a row Fulton was down by double digits after one quarter and fighting an insurmountable deficit for the rest of the game that ended in another loss, this time to the Comets 73-50.
Two days after the Steamers lost to the Preston Trojans and their lights out shooting the Steamers offense and defense seemed to be stuck in first gear again playing the Comets who got out to a quick 10-4 lead. Newman was working the ball around the court well finding holes under the basket with skilled passing. The first and third quarters hurt the Steamers the most as they looked a step behind a majority of Newman’s passes in the half court.
Since Friday’s blowout win against the Amboy Clippers at home the Steamers have regressed on the floor forgetting to cover the weak side on defense which was exploited by the Comets Monday night. The communication was not there Monday night for the Steamers like it was in the Amboy game.
For the most part Newman was the quicker team against the Steamers in Monday night’s game but several times Nick Fish and Devin Kuehl got the drop on the defense and attacked the basket with fervor sparking the Steamer’s offense in the 2nd quarter.
In talking with Senior Nick Fish after the game he deflected the spotlight from himself, recognizing his teammate’s accomplishments, exemplifying the ‘team first’ mentality that the Steamers have shared all season long despite struggles including the recent two game downturn in losses to Preston and Newman.
Fulton will look to pick themselves up on the road Tuesday night at River Ridge.
Boys vs Preston Trojans at Eric Ottens Memorial Shootout - L 87-42
It was not a pretty game for the Steamers Saturday night at home for the Eric Ottens Shoot-out. The Steamers couldn't get any rhythm on offense, turning over the ball on bad passes and straight steals way to much before they could set their offense up. Preston limited the Steamers to 2 points in the 1st quarter and 8 in the 1st half.
The Steamers scored a bit more in the 2nd half but by that time it was too late. The bench and sophomore call ups were given good minutes in the 4th quarter and didn't disappoint as the Steamers put up 23 points in the 4th led by Kody Crosthwaite who had 7, including a 3 pointer and 2-2 shooting at the free throw line.
Fulton will look to bounce back on Monday in a make-up game at Newman against the Comets at 7:30.
Boys vs Amboy Clippers - W 63-38
Friday night at Stan Borgman Court in Fulton the Steamers took control of the game early and never let go against the visiting Amboy Clippers in their 63-38 blowout win.
Amboy had the inbound with 28 second left before half trailing Fulton 24-22. The Clippers were going for the quick score to tie the game but missed their opportunity on a shot in the paint. TJ Huizenga of the Steamers grabbed the rebound and quickly passed up the floor to an open Nick Fish for the lay up to give Fulton the 4 point lead.
With 13 seconds left before half Fulton maintained their focus and control by forcing the Clippers’ Damon Quest to miss the contested shot as time ran out. A weakness all season long for Fulton, they were finally able to shut down their opponent in the final seconds of the half.
Another problem Fulton had been battling all season long was coming out in the 3rd quarter sluggish against teams, falling into big holes and ultimately losing games. The Steamers turned that around against the Clippers Friday night going on a 14-4 run to open up the 3rd.
The offense started out aggressive for Fulton as post players John Widener and Jake Wilging put the Steamers on the board early in the 1st quarter with long range jump shots, setting the tone for the game. The jump shots kept falling from everywhere on the floor and helped open up the post later in the game for the Steamers who didn’t miss an opportunity all night long.
A lot of the opportunities the Steamers were getting were coming from rebounds, an area of their game that has hurt them this season.
Nearly every offensive rebound turned into points for the Steamers, the biggest coming in the last two minutes of the second quarter. Widener grabbed the rebound off a missed shot from Matt Dail and gave it right back to Dail who nailed the follow up 3 taking the lead away from Amboy for the final time on the night. With the score 22-20 the Steamers would go on to win 63-38
Girls vs Riverdale Rams - L 64-37
The first few minutes of the game started off well for the Steamers. Morgan Sanquist found a couple of good shots from the field pushing the Steamers to keep pace with the Rams, but it didn't last long. Riverdale went on a quick run and before anyone in the gym knew it they were leading 18-5 going into the second quarter.
Things didn't get any better for the Steamers in the 2nd quarter as they were outscored 21-9. Riverdale didn't let up even after taking a 25 point lead at half time. The Rams exploited the Steamers mistakes, and there were plenty, and over whelmed them with their quick passing and well executed offense. Riverdale used a combination of backdoor shots, breakaway layups, and second chance rebounds to rack up the points against the Steamers.
Fulton didn't help themselves out as they were sluggish on defense and didn't box out on the boards. Their passing was a problem all night long. Many times there was miscommunication and the pass would end up out of bounds or the Steamers were paying enough attention and would pass the ball directly to a Rams player for the turn overs.
By the time the 4th quarter rolled around the score was 54-25 and the starters for both teams were being replaced by role players off the bench. The Steamers got some solid, valuable time from the bench including 2 points from both freshmen Averi Leitzen and Cameron Huizenga.
The Steamers hit the road on Thursday when they go to Amboy to play the Clippers.
Girls vs Morrison Fillies - W 30-26
The Fulton Steamers capped off a busy week of 4 games in 6 days with a win over their rivals the Morrison Fillies at home Saturday night. In the 30-26 win over Morrison the defense was solid from both teams while each struggled from the free throw line in the low scoring affair.
Senior Morgan Sanquist started the game out hot for the Steamers quickly putting in the first 6 points for Fulton on three mid-range jump shots. Early it looked like Sanquist and the Steamers were going to dominate the game but Morrison’s young team stepped up their defense throwing out a lot of different looks in the half court to make the Steamers stumble, which they did in the 2nd and 3rd quarters.
The 3rd quarter was low scoring for both teams with Fulton scoring only 5 points to Morrison’s 6. Steamer point guard Katherine Wayne led the Steamers on the court making the adjustments against the ever-switching defense helping keep Fulton ahead on the scoreboard.
The Steamers defense was matching Morrison’s turnover for turnover while Fulton out-rebounded the Fillies keeping them ahead for all but a minute of the game which came in the 3rd quarter. Morrison’s lead was short lived as the Steamers were able to find Morgan Wierema open in the paint several times to take the lead back for good.
Free throws hindered both teams on the night. Morrison shot 5 for 17 from the line while the Steamers were 5 for 16. The misses at the line put more pressure on each offense because of the unreliable free throw shooting and the Steamers had the better presence in the post giving them the edge with both Morgans.
The win over Morrison was their 3rd in 4 games this week which leads into Tuesday’s game against a Riverdale Rams team that is considered one of the best in the conference.
Boys vs Bureau Valley Storm - L 57-49
The Steamers couldn't hold onto their lead late over the Storm because of free throws hurting them on both ends of the floor. The Steamers shot 7-13 at the line on the night which hurt their chances late in the game of coming back after a Storm run had taken the lead away. To put even more emphasis on the Steamers free throw troubles Bureau Valley shot a solid 19-29 at the line on the night which helped them secure the win.
The first quarter was very defense oriented as the Steamers led at the end of the quarter 6-4. Both teams made adjustments after that and while the defense was still solid both the Steamers and Storm scored in double digits the rest of the game.
Going into half time the Steamers had the 23-20 lead on a 3-pointer from sophomore Zach Barber who sank his shot with around 20 seconds left. Bureau Valley could find a clean shot against the Steamer defense before the end of the half. Stopping teams from scoring before time ran out in a quarter or a half had been a challenge for the Steamers earlier in the season but they were able to clamp down on defense for the final seconds to go into half with the lead.
Bureau Valley tied the game up at the end of the third quarter and the lead went back and forth at the end of the 3rd and beginning of the 4th quarter. The Storm got some breathing room as the 4th quarter went on as the Steamers weren't able to knock down all of their shots. The close game forced the Steamers to foul the Storm to try and get the possession back but BV knocked down their free throws keeping their distance from the Steamers on the score board.
Despite limited time in the loss John Widener led the team with 12 points and on the court Fulton played solid defense, forcing a lot of turn overs and slowing down BV's top scorers for most of the game.
Girls vs Newman Comets - W 37-31
The Steamers snapped their losing streak on Monday with a win over the Comets at home. Fulton played well in the first quarter coming out strong against the Comets and getting their shots to fall. Good execution got the Steamers out o an 11-4 lead at the end of the quarter.
The Steamers hit a bump in the second quarter as the Comets began to chip away at the Steamer lead, forcing turnovers and scoring off of them, taking the momentum away as the half concluded.
The game became more physical as the night wore on and more fouls were committed in the second half as the defense became tougher to get around and the offense became more aggressive. Newman got 22 chances overall in the game from the free throw line and made only 9 of their free shots which hurt them greatly in the end. The Steamers shot 8-14 from the line on the night, a higher percentage than their season mark, which was highlighted by two big free throws from Rachel Beiermann in the 4th quarter.
Beiermann and Oswalt got wrapped up on an inbound pass with Oswalt committing the foul, Beiermann was whistled for the technical on the play as her emotions got the better of her at that moment. A time out was called while the referees conferred over how the chain of events would go after both fouls and when play resumed, Beiermann stepped to the line and put in the two shots which gave the Steamers some breathing room late in the game and took some of the pressure off of them. They went on from there to make a few more shots and keep the game out of reach for the Comets before time expired and the Steamers got the win.
Boys vs Erie Cardinals - W 49-46 OT
It was a battle on Stan Borgman Court Friday night between the Fulton Steamers and visiting Erie Cardinals that went into overtime. Emotions and intensity on the court were high. Only the Steamers were left standing when the clock hit zero with the 49-46 win. Fulton won their first conference game of the season in their defeat over the Cardinals and improved to 4-16 overall in what was a whole team effort on the floor.
The gym was packed with Fulton and Erie fans alike making for a loud game which only pumped up the intensity on the more, something that didn’t bother the Steamers.
This first quarter saw the Steamers get out to a 9-6 lead but that was the only lead of the game they would hold until late in overtime. Erie chipped away at the Steamers and had the lead going into half time before a stunning last second shot from Nick Fish in the lane tied as time ran out. Fish got a pass from Huizenga and took it to the hoop, weaving in between the defenders and lobbing up the shot to tie the game at 21 as time expired for half time.
The intensity gradually built up as the game progressed and while the Steamers after the first quarter 9-6, they went through some ups and downs in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th before stepping up and taking over in overtime.
The Steamers were able to handle the intensity a bit better than the Cardinals who committed two technical fouls, one of which came late in the 4th quarter when Erie’s coach, Klay Kieler, was jawing with the officials. The technical put Matt Dail at the free throw line, who in quick succession sank both free throws without flinching.
The free throws kept coming for the Steamers as they were a perfect 4-4 in over time burying each shot from the line with cold, steely confidence. Those free throws turned out to be the difference in the game for Fulton.
Ecstatic from the win the Steamers celebrated on the court with each other and their fans, jumping into each other’s arms in giant bear hugs and big smiles on their faces.
Girls vs Erie Cardinals - L 45-37
It was an up and down game for the Steamers Thursday night on the road. Playing the Cardinals, Fulton got out an early 9-4 lead in the 1st quarter. The lead didn't last the quarter as the Cardinals chipped away at the Steamers, eventually tying it at 12 at the end of one.
In the second quarter the Cardinals began to pull away from the Steamers with good play off the bench from Kayla Waggoner who had 5 points in the quarter for Erie. Her play sparked the Cardinals to a 25-18 lead at half time.
Steamers forward Morgan Sanquist was hampered by foul trouble for much of the game leaving her with only 2 points on the night when it was all said and done. Thursday's game was one of the few times that Sanquist's height worked against her as the refs called her for two quick over the back fouls as she was attempted to pull down the rebound for the Steamers in the 2nd quarter giving her 3 in the half. With the 3 fouls Sanquist was relegated to the bench for much of the 2nd and 3rd quarters.
Rachel McDonnell was tapped to fill in for Sanquist, playing well for the Steamers. McDonnell had a quiet 2nd quarter for the Steames but in the 3rd and 4th quarters she had some key rebounds, points and assists. On the offensive boards, McDonnell gave the Steamers a boost in the 2nd half putting in two rebounds for buckets and changing the momentum in the Steamers favor. Unfortunately the Steamers weren't able to maintain the momentum with a couple of untimely turnovers and fouls.
Fulton was able to come back from a 9 point deficit in the 3rd quarter to tie the game at 31, but the 4th quarter started out poorly and they weren't able to recover. Erie went on a 7-0 run to start the 4th quarter killing the momentum the Steamers had built up at the end of the 3rd. Fulton kept fighting back and got within 4 points but were forced to foul the Cardinals to get the ball back in their possession but in the process saw Rachel Beiermann, Morgan Sanquist and Katherine Wayne foul out of the game.
The Steamers will look to turn around their luck on Monday when they play the Newman Central Comets at home.
Boys vs Kewanee Boilermakers - L 80-51
On the road for their second match up of the season against the Boilers the Steamers stumbled early and were overmatched in their loss to Kewanee. The Steamers were hampered by a lack of rebounding on both the offensive and defensive ends of the court.
Kewanee's young freshman forward, Donovan Oliver beat the Steamers on the boards the entire game grabbing 5 offensive rebounds in the first half and turning each into points with the putback. Unable to find a rhythm on offense and being outrebounded on defense the Steamers fell into a hole before half time.
While the Steamers were able to contain Boiler guard Dayton Ince to 11 points after he lit them up the last time out for 26 other Boilers picked up the slack and Oliver had another strong game in their win over the Steamers.
TJ Huizenga and Nick Fish both reached double digits in points with 11 and 10 respectively and John Widener contributed 9 points and 8 rebounds. Backup guard Alex Barber made his return from a knee injury earlier than expected and logged some time on the court for the Steamers pulling in two rebounds. Fulton was also able to give some of their sophomores time on the court in the 4th quarter. Seth Sanderson, Zach Barber and Kyle Huebner accumulated some good minutes and experience at the varsity level before the game was over.
Girls vs Prince of Peace Irish - L 52-38
Inconsistency followed the Fulton Steamers from last holiday tournament into Saturday night’s game against the visiting Prince of Peace Irish leading to their 52-38 loss. Fulton had challenged by the Prince of Peace defense and wasn’t able to come up with a consistent answer on offense, losing their footing on offense in the second half.
The Irish defense did exactly what they came out to do throwing the Steamers off their offensive game and forcing them to rush their offense. The rushed pace of the Steamers offense hurt them on missed shots and turnovers, especially in the second half.
Fulton was forcing up their shots in the third quarter when the Irish came out hot with a 9-1 run. The Steamers were trying to make up the deficit all at once rushing some of their passes which ended with turnovers taking away the momentum they were trying to build to get back into the game.
The Steamers had already come from 9 points down in the 2nd quarter to close within two of the Irish, but Prince of Peace switched up their defensive scheme in the 3rd quarter, holding the Steamers at bay offensively.
The first half saw the Irish march out with a 1-3-1 diamond half-court trap which they executed well enough but Fulton was finding ways around it by the end of the second quarter. This prompted the Irish to move to a full court man to man press in the second half. The move stifled the Steamers long enough for the Irish to make their shots on offense and build a comfortable lead in the second half on their way to the win.
The Steamers will look to get their frustrations out on the court next Thursday when they travel to Erie to play the Cardinals, a team they historically play well against.
Boys vs Riverdale Rams - L 65-48
The dropped their first game of the New Year to the visiting Riverdale Rams. Strong play in the first half was overshadowed by inconsistency in the second half from the Steamers emphasized by a 20-7 run the Rams went on in the 3rd quarter.
The Steamers were rebounding well against the Rams in the first half grabbing 19 boards as a team lead by Matt Dail's 10. A change in defense from the Rams in the 2nd half combined with the fact that they were hitting all of their shots in the second half kept the Steamers off the boards. As a team Fulton was only able to track down 10 rebounds in the second half because they were forced out of position by the Rams switch in defensive schemes.
TJ Huizenga and John Widener each scored 12 points a piece but had little help offensively outside of Nick Fish and Matt Dail who had 8 points each. The offense wasn't able to get anything going in the second half against Riverdale's man to man full court press and 1-2-2 half court defense. More than once the Steamers were only able to get off one shot per possession and on misses Riverdale would run the floor catching the Steamers off balance in transition, on a fast break, or just plain miscommunication on defense before sinking their shots and taking over the game.
Boys vs Pearl City Wolves at Eastland Holiday Tournament - L 49-44
Fatigue set in after a strong first quarter for the second day in a row for the Steamers in their 49-44 loss to the Pearl City Wolves. Injuries this season have reduced the Steamers roster down to 7 players and playing 4 of the 5 games in the Eastland Holiday Tournament took its toll on the Steamers in their last two games when they started strong before limping away with a loss.
Junior Jake Wilging played consistently well for the Steamers in all five games of the tournament but noted that while the hustle of the Steamers did not dip their energy levels took a hit from having only 7 active players.
Having played and beaten Pearl City earlier in the tournament the Steamers had confidence coming into the final game of the tournament and it showed. They quickly established an 18-9 lead over the Wolves in the 1st quarter. But, like the previous day in their loss to Amboy, the Steamers couldn’t keep up the level of physical intensity. They began to show holes and breakdowns and the Wolves took advantage.
Fulton was able to maintain the lead through halftime but Pearl City had already chipped away at it closing the gap to 22-20. One reason the Steamers were able to hold onto the lead before half time was their switch mid way through the second quarter to the 2-3 zone defense which completely befuddled the Wolves offense. At the time senior John Widener was on the bench in foul trouble but he liked what he saw from his teammates.
The Steamers’ zone defense was working so well at the end of the 1st half that the Wolves couldn’t find any holes to the basket. For 30 of the last 40 seconds in the 2nd quarter Wolves’ point guard, Devin Schiess, stared down the Steamers’ meanest defender, TJ Huizenga.
Huizenga and the rest of the Steamers showed great patience by not breaking their zone and forcing Pearl City to put up a contested 3-pointer at the last second, missing badly at the buzzer. During the last two minutes of the second quarter the Steamers’ zone defense looked the best it had all season moving together and shutting all lanes and openings to the basket and contesting every perimeter shot.
Things took a turn for the worse in the 2nd half for the Steamers. A couple of minutes into the 3rd quarter Pearl City found their groove and took over the lead while the Steamers struggles continued.
The offense began to force up shots which took them even further from their comfort zone and allowed Pearl City to pad their lead and keep it just out of reach of Fulton.
Boys vs Amboy Clippers at Eastland Holiday Tournament - L 54-47
In the final minutes the victory slipped through the Steamers fingers and into the grasp of the Amboy Clippers. Competing in the Eastland Holiday Tournament these conference foes met in a non-conference bout with the Clippers sucker-punching the Steamers late for the 54-47 win.
A late 3-pointer from the Clippers’ Damon Quest changed everything, putting the Clippers up by 3 with less than two minutes to go. From there the Steamers couldn’t muscle their way out of the whole they had helped dig themselves into, forced to foul and send Amboy’s best shooter, Tyson Powers, to the free throw line in hopes of getting the possession back with minimal damage. Powers made 3 of his last 4 free throws which were the final nails in the coffin giving the Steamers the loss.
The game began well for Fulton as they see-sawed the early lead with the Clippers a few times before going on a run to end the quarter leading 19-10. The Steamers weren’t crashing the boards very strongly, something that would hurt them in the end, but throughout the game they were shooting well from distance, marked by four of their six 3-pointers coming in the first half.
The lack of aggressiveness on offense from the Steamers early set the tone somewhat for them the rest of the game as they seemed to lose steam in the 4th quarter.
Fulton did have good ball movement on offense they just weren’t able to translate that into points or trips to the line hurting their chances and making them rely on their outside shooting which went cold in the 4th quarter.
The cold perimeter shooting mixed with the lackluster offensive rebounding from the Steamers was the wrong combination, taking away their second chance opportunities on offense which allowed Amboy to chip away at the Steamer as the game went on.
While there were plenty of negatives in the loss for the Steamers overall they played well and for the most part smart. They limited their turnovers and played sharp defense most of the afternoon and will have to build on that to play more consistently as the season progresses.
Boys vs Lena Winslow Panthers at Eastland Holiday Tournament - L 60-41
The Fulton Steamers up and down season continued Thursday night at the Eastland Holiday Tournament. There disappointing 60-41 loss to the Lena Winslow Panthers emphasized the ebb and flow of the Steamers season after day one’s solid play at the tournament.
With the exception of being outscored in the 3rd quarter of their ame with Stillman Valley the day before the Steamers played hard, tough, smart and with enthusiasm all day earning a split on the day; losing to Stillman Valley 73-65 and beating Pearl City 63-56.
The Steamers were unable to replicate their playing style from the day before part of which can be blamed on the fact that they were down to seven players on the team because of injuries. Guard Devin Kuehl had gone down with a concussion at the end of the first game and will not return until the New Year. Having only 7 players available put more pressure on the guys out on the court.
Already working from the disadvantage before the tip the Steamers had a hard time finding a rhythm or a pace they were comfortable with. Lena Winslow took advantage of that, setting the pace and changing it how they wanted throughout the game after getting up to a quick 7-2 lead.
It took several minutes into the first quarter for the Steamers to get on the board with senior Nick Fish making two free throws from the line after being fouled on the put back. Unfortunately the free throws didn’t spark the Steamer offense; they only managed 8 points in the first quarter.
As at team the Steamers will look to shake off Thursday’s poor loss to the Panthers and move on to the final two games of the Eastland Holiday Tournament with the goal of grabbing one more win, hopefully two before the New Year.
Girls vs Kewwanee Boilermakers - L 32-24
It was a low scoring affair Monday night at Stan Borgman Court between the Fulton Steamers and Kewanee Boilermakers. Kewanee would ultimately pull away for the win 32-24, but both teams played some tough defense on the night limiting the scoring in the first half.
The Steamers fell behind early in the game 6-0 in the first quarter until with only two minutes left senior Morgan Wierema was able to put the Steamers on the board with two free throws. After that they went on a run offensively closing the gap to 10-8 before time ran out.
The second quarter turned into a defensive battle with both teams only scoring 2 points in the eight minutes before half time. The inbound defense from the Steamers was especially tough causing a lot of tips, turnovers and bad passes by Kewanee. But turnovers and a lack of offensive rebounds by the Steamers kept them from taking the lead before half time.
The Steamers offense sputtered all night long, struggling to find the basket with the exception of Morgan Wierema who scored 16 leading all scorers. Wierema made her presence known under the basket, but unfortunately the rest of the Steamers were not shooting well enough to draw the defense out to the perimeter to open up the post game more for Wierema.
The Steamer defense is what kept them in the game and helped them to the lead for most of the third quarter. They got a lot of stops on defense but it wasn’t enough and the offense just wasn’t picking them up when they needed it especially in the 4th quarter when Kewanee began to pull away with the game.
The Steamers will look to find more balance on the court starting this weekend when they head to the Warkins Holiday Tournament at Erie High School.
Boys vs Warran Warriors at West Carrool Holiday Tournament - W 61-42
The final game of the West Carroll Holiday Tournament started off slowly and it looked like the Steamers were in for another long afternoon. Fulton quickly fell into a 6-0 deficit before finally getting on the board. The Steamers were able to claw their way back into 1st quarter by the end of it trailing the Warriors 14-8. The Steamers turned things around in the 2nd quarter breaking out for 19 points while holding the Warriors to 6 for the 27-20 lead at half time. The first half was led by junior Matt Dail who stepped up with 9 points to lead the Steamers offense in the first half.
The Steamers rebounding, while not out of this world was solid and none were better in the first half than senior Nick Fish who grabbed 6 boards for the Steamers as they took over the lead.
In the 3rd quarter the Steamers continued to build onto their lead putting it into double digits and kept crashing the boards. Free throw shooting became a larger part of the Steamers offense in the second half and they built on their strong shooting from the line that was started in the 1st quarter. At as team the Steamer shot 16-21 from the line.
The Steamers had the game pretty much put away but with 13 seconds left on the clock there was a surge of drama to the game. The power went out right as a Warrior was going to the basket. The gym went dark for a second, quieting the crowd after a collective gasp. The scoreboard and lights down the middle of the ceiling turned out seconds later and there was only a slight delay before the rest of the game was played out and the Steamers ended the tournament with a 21 point win.
Boys vs Stockton Blackhawks at West Carrool Holiday Tournament - L 61-40
The Steamers had a tough night trying to follow up their first win of the season against the Stockton Blackhawks. The offense started off slowly for the team and in the first half the Steamers were held to 17 points. The defense was sporadic but able to hold Stockton to 26 in the first half keeping the Steamers within reach.
In the second half of the game the Steamer offense began to wake up scoring 13 points when leading scorer Nick Fish dropped 5 of his 14 points. Fulton was able to close the gap to 38-30 at the end of 3 quarters but that was a close as it would get.
In the 4th quarter the Blackhawks began running away with the game exploiting the Steamers defense in the post going to sophomore Springer in the paint for 10 points in the quarter. Stockton outscored the Steamers in the 4th 23-10 on the way to the win.
Boys Unity Christian Knights at West Carrool Holiday Tournament - W 54-35
The Fulton Steamers notched their first win of the season at the West Carroll Holiday Tournament Tuesday night against the Fulton Unity Christian Knights 54-35. It took them 10 tries by the Steamers were finally able to pull it all together and their first win of the season was a solid one.
The game started out quickly for the Steamers with a 3-pointer from senior Nick Fish to begin the scoring and from there the Steamers never let go of the lead. The rest of the first quarter was dominated by Steamer junior Jake Wilging who had 8 points and 4 rebounds by the start of the 2nd quarter.
Fulton saw their 12 point lead dwindle down to 4 points after an 8 point run from the Knights that began the final shot of the 1st quarter from Collin Willoughby and stretched into the first 6 points of the 2nd. Junior sharp shooter Matt Dail got the Steamers back on track before the lead evaporated completely with a long 2 from the corner.
While the Steamers offense wasn’t firing on all cylinders in the game their defense and rebounding were both the best they had been all season. On the boards the Steamers had a season 37 as a team lead by Jake Wilging who on the night had a double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds. John Widener, Devin Kuehl, and Nick Fish each had 6 rebounds. Widener and Fish also scored in double digits with 11 and 10 points respectively, marking the first time this season the Steamers had three players in double digits.
The Steamers defense as always was le by senior TJ Huizenga overpowered Nolan Willoughby all night long forcing bad passes and grabbing several steals including one where TJ snatched it right out of Willioughby's hands and sped down the court putting the Steamers on offense
Fulton had a little bit extra motivation to win on Tuesday night than just the 9 game losing streak. The night before the Steamers had lost by 20 to Scales Mound but on the last play of the game back up guard Alex Barber was injured while taking a steal, dislocating his knee. Barber will be out for 6 to 8 weeks while he heals, but gave the Steamers added focus on their way to the win over the Knights.
The Steamers will look to put a win streak together on Friday when they head back to the West Carroll Holiday tournament to play the Stockton Blackhawks.
Boys vs Scales Mound Hornets at West Carrool Holiday Tournament - L 60-40
In the second game of the West Carroll Holiday Tournament the Steamers didn't look ready for a basketball game. The Hornets got off to a quick startscorign the first 4 points of the game in quick form after the tip off. The Hornets changed up their offense every couple of times up the floor giving the Steamers a look at quick drives while the defense was still trying to set up then slowing things down while working the ball around in the triangle offense to get the defensive switches off track allowing for a hole underneath the basket for an easy bucket.
The Steamers finally seemed to wake up in the 4th quarter but by that time it was too late and the deficit was 23 points. The Steamers played better defense and took advantage of the younger less experienced bench players that Scales Mound had run out onto the floor, getting more steals and racing up the floor on fast breaks. The game unfortunately ended on an injury on a hustle play for the Steamers. Back up guard Alex Barber had gone for the steal knocking the ball away from a Hornet, he dove all out to get the ball and tossed it to an open Devin Kuehl who went in uncontested for the layup. During the commotion on the floor someone landed on Barbers left knee injuring it pretty badly. The game would end there with 9 seconds left on the clock and Barber, in visible pain but conscious and talking, had to be taken off the court on a stretcher. The extent of his injury is unknown.
Boys vs Eastland Cougars at West Carrool Holiday Tournament - L 59-45
The losing streak continued for the Steamers on Saturday in the opening game of the West Carroll Holiday tournament. Right off the bat the Steamers had a tough challenge facing the Eastland Cougars one of the better teams in the region. The Steamers hung in there with the Cougars in the first half trailing at halftime by only 5 points, 24-19.
A slow start in the 3rd quarter hurt the Steamers as they weren't able to escape a mini run from the Cougars that put their lead in double digits. Fulton began to chip away at the lead in the 4th quarter and were able to get it under double digits at one point but the defense was forced to commit some fouls and send the Cougars to the line. Despite Eastland's horrible free throw shooting all game, 48%, the Cougars were able to get their lead over the Steamers back into double digits.
While the Steamers free throw shooting was the best it has been all season, 79%, it was not enought to offset their poor rebounding throughout the entire game. There was one point early in the 4th quarter that the Cougars were able to put up 4 consecutive missed shots and get the rebound before the Steamers finally muscled their way in and got a good bounce for a rebound of their own.
Boys vs Amboy Clippers - L 51-42
Friday night the Steamers hit the road playing the Amboy Clippers missing early opportunities for the win. The first quarter was low scoring; the Steamers managed only 4 points while Amboy scored 9. The low scoring continued as Amboy broke double digit scoring in a single quarter in the 3rd with 12 points. The defense was solid and the pace was slow while both teams were committing too many turnovers. The Steamers trailed by only 7 points going into the 4th quarter but that is when everything broke loose.
Early in the 4th quarter the Clippers went on a mini run giving them a double digit lead over the Steamers before Fulton clawed their way back into it. Unfortuately by the time the Steamers were close enough to threaten the Clippers the Steamers had to commit fouls to send the Clippers to the line and get the possession back in their favor.
Defense flew out the window in the 4th quarter and both teams chose to play run and gun basketball leading to both scoring over 20 points in the quarter. The collapse of the Steamers defense led to a few key baskets in the quarter that shouldn't have been taken by the Clippers and too many fouls giving the Clippers free looks at the basket.
Girls vs Amboy Clippers - W 37-27
Fulton started off on the right foot after winning the tip off by hitting an open Sam Raab for three giving the Steamers the almost immediate lead. The Clippers kept the game close with the Steamers in the first half never letting them get a lead of more than 4 points and even took the lead for a total of 5 seconds.
As the second quarter was winding down the Steamers were up by 4 points 15-11 and Amboy went on a quick 5 point run taking the lead over 16-15 in the last minute and a half. The Clippers were ready to go into half time with the lead and the momentum shift but the Steamers had a different idea. With 10 seconds left on the clock the Steamers in-bounded the ball after Amboy took the lead and quickly got it down the floor to a wide open Morgan Wierema underneath the basket. She made the effortless lay up to give the Steamers the 17-16 lead at half time.
The third quarter between the Steamers and Clippers got a little heated as the physical play escalated a bit but Fulton was able to keep their composure as built their lead up to 7 points by the end of the quarter. A couple of confrontations between the Steamers and Clippers left a couple of girls on the floor with minor bumps and bruises but no one was taken out of the game.
The Clippers coach did get a technical foul though when he slammed his clipboard on the court after the Clipper's Appleman took a Wierema elbow to the face.
The Steamers continued their solid defense all night long forcing Amboy to commit too many turnovers and extended their lead to 11 points during the 4th quarter before the final buzzer sounded and they won 37-27.
The Steamers head to the Pearl City Tournament starting Saturday evening.
Boys vs Prophetstown Prophets - L 68-53
On the road for a Saturday night conference contest the Steamers came out hot in the opening minutes of their game with the Prophets. After winning the tip the Steamers passed once hitting Nick fish on the wing and he sent up a beautiful 3 pointer that saw nothing but net giving the Steamers the 3-0 lead. Fulton commanded most of the first quarter before the Prophets inched their way back into the contest.
The second quarter went back and forth between the Prophets and Steamers and at half time the Steamers were trailing 28-24.
With their smallest deficit to overcome at half time this season the Steamers were poised to take control of the game and started off hot tying the game at 30, but from there everything fell apart. The Prophets went on a run that gave them a 13 point lead in an ugly 3rd quarter for the Steamers.
The 4th quarter was better for Fulton but unfortunately it was too little, too late. Fulton was down by nearly 20 points at one point in the 4th before they clawed their way back to within nine with only a few minutes left, but that was the closest they would get in the game. Fulton was led in the 2nd half by junior Jake Wilging who picked up the slack after John Widener got into foul trouble and eventually fouled out. Wilging had 11 points in the 2nd half and led the team with 15 on the night.
Fulton plays at Amboy this Friday night at 7:30
Boys vs Kewanee Boilermakers - L 76-45
After starting the season with four straight road games at the Orion Tip-Off Classic the Fulton Steamers game home to familiar faces and the raucous of the student section at Stan Borgman Court to host the Kewanee Boilermakers. Along with being the first home game of the season for the Steamers it was also their first conference contest of the 2012-13 season.
Fulton was playing at a large disadvantage in the game with both big men, John Widener and Jake Wilging out for the game. Earlier that afternoon both were in Wilging's car pulling out of a parking lot when another car hit them, doing a good amount of damage to the car. Both Widener and Wilging are fine, no injuries, but they were both ineligible for the game.
The first five minutes of the first quarter were tight, tied at five points a piece between the Steamers and visiting Boilermakers, but then Kewanee got a couple of breaks on some turnovers from Fulton and quickly turned it into an 11-5 lead before Fulton coach Rick Norman was forced to call a timeout. Things didn't get any better for the Steamers after that as Kewanee Shut them out for the final 3 minutes of the quarter after the timeout and extended their lead to 23-5.
The game would spiral away from the Steamers from that point forward ending in a 76-45 defeat.
Kewanee senior Dayton Ince lead all scorers on the night with 26 points and didn't get hot until the third quarter and in the second half knocked down four of the six three pointers that he hit in the game. The Steamers leading scorers on the night were junior Devin Kuehl with 14 points and senior TJ Huizenga with 13. Fulton couldn't answer Kewanee falling into a large deficit that never seemed to decrease early in the game. Despite the deficit and the fact that Fulton was missing both big men, John Widener and Jake Wilging, from the game the Steamers still drove the ball more aggressively against Kewanee than they have in any of their previous four games and also reached the free throw line more frequently than before.
The increased aggressiveness was a step forward for the Steamers offense on the long road they still have ahead of them to notch some wins this season. Their defense and passing are still a problem as they are committing too many turnovers and not getting enough rebounds to keep the games closer. The aggressiveness and hustle they showed against Kewanee will help them turn these lopsided losses into wins as they continue refine their skills and teamwork on the court this season.
Fulton will look to keep the aggressiveness in the paint and on defense as they hunt for their first win in their next game Saturday on the road playing the Prophetstown Prophets.
Boys vs Orion Chargers at Orion Tip-Off - L 65-38
The Steamers returned to the court once more before the Thanksgiving holiday to play the host of the Orion Tournament the Orion Chargers. Fulton fell in this game to the Orion Charges by another lopsided score. While the score was similar in this loss to the previous loss Fulton had a couple of different problems.
The quarter that hurt them the most was the 3rd, they came out of half time flat and were beat 22-7 in those 8 minutes. Turnovers from bad passes and ball handling mistakes hurt the Steamers the most as they faced a full court press from the Chargers all game long and their problems with it were most noticeable in the 3rd quarter.
In the 4th quarter things began to come together a bit for the Steamers. They were finding a few more holes in the defense after Orion had backed off of the full court press and that built up the Steamers confidence in the final 8 minutes of the game. The rebounding got better for Fulton and they were able to get a couple of second chance shot to fall. They still only sent two men to the free throw line for the entire game. They still have to work on their aggressiveness and confidence in going to the basket for the shot or the foul, but they worked the ball into the post a bit better against Orion with John Widener putting up 17 points and Jake Wilging getting 5.
The Steamers continued to show their range with 5 more 3 pointers and TJ Huizenga and John Widener surprised and impressed everyone by both pulling up for and sinking a 3.
Boys vs Rockridge Rockets at Orion Tip-Off - L 71-36
The Fulton Steamers opened up their 2012-13 season at the Orion Tip-Off classic against the state ranked Rockridge Rockets and the Rockets showed Fulton why they were state ranked. While the first quarter remained relatively close, Rockridge pulled away for the 71-36 win in the second half.
The Steamers played well in the first quarter keeping the game close at 16-7 but an overall team height disadvantage against Rockridge that was made even more obvious by the dominance of Rockets junior forward Ethan Happ, who at 6’7” had control the paint and the boards for Rockridge.
The Steamers were only able to gather 11 rebounds during the game which hurt them in the long run. First game jitters seemed to be getting to them in the paint and on drives inside as they had trouble finishing their shots at the basket and grabbing rebounds.
Only one Steamer was successful at getting to the free throw line in the game. Nick Fish was fouled late in the 4th quarter when the game was already out of reach and went 1-2 from the stripe but that was only time any Steamer had free shots.
If the Steamers want to improve they will have to be more assertive underneath the basket going for rebounds and finishing their shots. They area a well rounded team with potential to attack from behind the arc as well as in the paint and the keep moving on the floor while playing well together, but the challenge this season will be getting those moving parts that fit together to work together. Once and if that happens they will be able to keep up with anyone in the conference.
From behind the arch the Steamers showed a knack for making the shots making five of their ten attempts. They were also very active on the floor and aggressive, which at times worked against them. As a team Fulton committed 16 fouls, led by senior guard/forward TJ Huizenga who fouled out of the game late in the 3rd quarter.
Fulton will look to keep moving around the floor well like they did in the loss but open up more looks down low by drawing the defense out with the sharp shooting from behind the 3 point line in their next game in the tournament Wednesday night against the Orion Chargers.