Eagles ride hot hands, pull out victory over Beloit Turner
JEFFERSON — When the Jefferson Eagles needed a bucket, they rode the hot hands.
Senior forward Cory Kaiser scored 14 of his 22 points and Caleb Stelse added eight of his 11 in the second half to help Jefferson earn a 64-61 victory over Beloit Turner in Rock Valley Conference prep boys basketball action Thursday night.
Kaiser and Stelse were the one-two punch for Jefferson when it needed to find an answer for Beloit Turner in the second half. Turner made a pair of 3-pointers to close out the first half trailing 32-22. The Trojans opened the second half on a 10-3 run and took their first lead, 43-41, with 7 minutes, 54 seconds left in the game.
That’s when the Eagles started to push back. Kaiser made two 3s, a bucket and two free throws and Stelse had six points to keep the Trojans at bay.
“I was happy with how the guys responded. It was a sign of our maturity,” Jefferson coach Greg Jefferies said. “I told them in the locker room that it was a sign of maturity. The last couple of year, we wouldn’t have finished that because we wouldn’t have known how to compete and finish off the game.
“I’m proud of them.”
After Beloit Turner extended its first second-half lead to 46-41 with 7:23 to play, Jefferson answered with a 15-1 run over a four-minute stretch.
It was a mixture of Stelse knowing when and how to drive the basket, absorb contact and force post players to help defend the rim and Kaiser making key shots throughout the second half. It was a career high for Kaiser, whose role last year was primarily as a rebounder.
Kaiser said the two-man game evolved naturally initially, but the Eagles started arranging their offense more and more as they started rolling.
“It started as just us being on the same side as each other, but obviously that got us the lead back and the coaches saw it so they kept going back to that matchup,” Kaiser said. From there, he said the key was to not force things but let them come to him. “Whenever I have the positive energy going it helps feed my game.”
Senior Ryan Brost, who finished with 17 points, had the only other bucket during the 15-1 run.
Jefferson was able to rely on a balance among its backcourt throughout the game as Jefferies rotated through sophomore Reese Fetherston, Stelse, Brost and senior Ben Sukow. Though Sukow finished with four points and Fetherston didn’t score, the four-guard rotation kept the Eagles strong for the final stretch.
“We don’t call anyone starters or nonstarters. In practice, I don’t have a starting five,” Jefferies said. “I don’t have five guys who are specifically competing against each other. Caleb knows that if he is coming off of the bench or if he is starting, we expect the same effort out of him because we’re going to have a pretty balanced distribution of playing time.”
That showed with three assists by Sukow in the decisive moments of the game and the strong takes to the rim by Stelse.
“The refs were calling fouls, so I knew that if I went in there strong and I missed, my teammates were going to have my back if I missed, or I was going to get fouled,” Stelse said. “I’ve got a lot of (older siblings) and they beat up on me, so I guess I was used to (contact around the rim).”
It was critical considering Turner senior Steve Dillard scored 19 of his 25 in the second half to lead the comeback and made six 3-pointers in the game.
“Beloit Turner is a good team. This is a big win for us,” Jefferies said. “I told the guys we’re not out of the (RVC) loop yet. We want to put ourselves in a position when the second round of conference games comes to get hot, but we have a really tough stretch where we have Turner, East Troy, McFarland and Edgerton all in a row there. This win helps us because I think we can play with anyone, I’m excited for these guys to hopefully understand that.”
JEFFERSON 64, BELOIT TURNER 61
Beloit Turner 22 39 — 61
Jefferson 32 32 — 64
Beloit Turner (fg-ft-tp) — Majeed 4-3-11, Wash 1-0-3, Draeving 4-2-10, Tinder 3-0-7, Dillard 9-1-25, Hoppe 0-2-2. Totals 22-7-61.
Jefferson (fg-ft-tp) — Sukow 2-0-4, Kaiser 8-2-22, Stelse 5-0-11, Brost 8-0-17, Monogue 0-5-5, Vogel 2-0-5. Totals 25-7-64.
3-pointers — BT, Dillard 6, Wash, Tinder, Majeed, Wash; J, Kaiser 4, Stelse, Brost, Vogel.
Total fouls — BT 17, J 14.