RICHTON PARK, Ill. — If a silver lining could be found in Michigan City’s three-point loss to Rich Central in the team’s first game at the Rich South Big Dipper Tournament, it would be that the Wolves at least shot 86 percent from the foul line.
Against Chicago Marshall in an early Thursday morning consolation bracket contest, City struggled greatly from the charity stripe – converting just 12 of 23 free throw shots while dropping its first double-digit loss of the season to the Commandos, 62-48.
Senior Rayshon Howard paced the Wolves (5-4), who were still within a point at half before Marshall started pulling away in the third, with a game-high 21 points and the only player to finish the game in double-digits for City.
“Today was a different contrast from yesterday where we were able to hit free throws (against Rich Central), and today we couldn’t hit a free throw to save our life,” City coach John Boyd said. “We have a young team, and we have to go up against some adversity. These guys still have to find a way to win.
“We had three freshmen out there playing along with our two seniors: The guys have to learn how to maneuver and battle. This is a great environment to learn because they played a very scrappy team who never quits, has quick hands and fouls hard. The guys have to learn how to play in those environments.”
In the second quarter, the Wolves were demonstrating some chemistry, outscoring the Commandos 15-10 in the period with five City players scoring and keeping the game within reach, trailing just 28-27 at the break.
However, Marshall outscored the Wolves 34-21 the rest of the way, using a 19-11 third quarter for a nine-point lead heading into the final period. Howard scored all of City’s third-quarter points, providing a ray of hope going into the final eight minutes.
Hopes for a comeback looked possible when a 3-pointer by sophomore Dezmond Hawkins (eight points) and a basket by Howard pulled the Wolves within 50-45 with 6:19 left in regulation. However, a 6-0 Commandos’ run over the next 1:20 slammed the door on City.
“We were also hurt by a lot of turnovers in the game,” Boyd said. “I think we had close to 20 turnovers to go with a lot of missed free throws. I told the guys that if you take a test and miss 20 questions, that’s an ‘F’ – and today we scored an ‘F’ on the test.”
Boyd, however, knows that some struggles will occur on a team with three freshmen (Jalen Bullock, Omarion Hatch, Jevon France), along with four sophomores (Donye Grant, Tahari Watson, Evan Bush, Cormac Mclinden).
“When you put a team together like this, you know you’re going to have some ups and downs. I am a coach that hates to lose, and it’s tough…but it’s a process that you have to go through to get your team to where it needs to be. We’re going to continue to embrace that process with these guys.”
City plays another consolation game on Friday at 9 a.m. against Chicago Bowen.
Chicago Marshall 62, Michigan City 48
The Wolves’ Rayshon Howard guided all scorers with 21 points.