AP NEWS

Something’s gotta change

December 14, 2018

MICHIGAN CITY — After his team dropped its second game in the last three outings — along with a tight 45-39 win over Washington Township on Saturday night — Michigan City coach John Boyd was adamant about some changes needing to be made on Thursday night.

“This team needs a change in attitude,” Boyd said following a 50-47 loss to East Chicago Central. “We come into the (Wolves) Den and we feel like we’re owed something. None of the teams we play are gonna hand us anything. Something’s gotta change with this team and it’s the attitude. We gotta come out hungry like the teams we play, especially when we’re at home. You saw it in the West Side game. When we’re behind, we play like we’re desparate. We should be desperate as soon as we step on the floor.”

Boyd’s critique of his team’s attitude stemmed from the fact that the Wolves lost to a previously-winless Cardinals side, continuing the recent trend not looking like the better of the two teams on the floor in most aspects of the game.

“It’s mostly a young team and we’re just not in a rhythm,” Boyd said. “We’re choppy. That’s where we’ve been. We haven’t been confident in taking shots. We’re unsure, and then when we have shots, we have to have playmakers that can make some plays and hit some shots. That’s not been happening.”

The Wolves (4-2) missed eight of their nine 3-point attempts in a game they trailed for practically the entirety of the second half, surrending a lifeless 9-0 run out of the break in a contest that was tied at 20 through two quarters. Add in 16 turnovers, including some potential run-crushing ones in the half-court down the stretch while trailing, and it was a recipe for defeat for the Wolves.

East Chicago’s trio of triples from their array of guards got them going in the third period with the 29-20 advantage, but where things could’ve gotten ‘choppy’ for the visitors – like Cardinals coach Marcus Jefferson exclaimed to his team with about four minutes to play in the quarter — turned into a learning experience for Jefferson’s bunch, grasping a 38-32 lead after an 18-point frame.

“I told my guys that in games like this, you have to bite down and grit your teeth,” Jefferson said. “It comes down to toughness and who wants this the most. They’re on their home floor, they’re a solid team, and they execute. I thought they played well tonight. They execute their offense well. It just so happened that our guards play their game and Chris (Okeke) did a great job defensively, and we came away with a win.”

Okeke took just five shots and made two of his three free throws for a grand total of six points, but it was defensive performance, specifically in the blocks department that turned the game into a nightmare for City at times.

The 6-8 senior blocked seven shots, including a monster block at the rim on City big man Rayshon Howard with 3.9 left and the Wolves trailing by three. Howard came up big for the Wolves with 20 points on 7-of-11 shooting, but it was his last attempt that sent the City contingency in the gym into silence.

“Out of all of my guys, I spend the most time with this kid,” Jefferson said on Okeke. “I tried to keep him encouraged. I believe his best basketball is ahead of him. Game by game, he’s improving. I continually tell him that he’s one of the guys that can change the game without putting the ball in the basket. That’s what makes him special. He’s gonna continue to get better as a player and we’re gonna continue to improve as a team.”

For the Wolves, the same goes for them and Boyd hopes those improvements come rather quickly with a trip to Penn on Saturday and the Rich South (Ill.) Tournament the day after Christmas.

“We’re going into DAC play after the Christmas break, too, and it can get brutal if things don’t change,” Boyd said. “We have to believe in the system and trust the system. We have to trust it, learn where our options are, feel comfortable with them and then make those reads. We have to learn to stay structured and stay disciplined.”

Reach Michael Whitlow at mwhitlow@thenewsdispatch.com or (219) 214-4169. Follow him on Twitter @couldbelikemike.

East Chicago Central 50, Michigan City 47

Rayshon Howard scored a game-high 20 points, but the Wolves turned the ball over 16 times.

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