BOYS BASKETBALL: Boilers best Bolts in conference clash
BRADLEY — At last week’s Kankakee Holiday Tournament, Bradley-Bourbonnais coach Alex Renchen said he wanted to see his team execute with more efficiency.
And in the first game of the new year, Renchen got his wish.
The Boilers shot 60 percent from the field (18 of 30), 75 percent from the free-throw line (21 of 28) and had assists on 11-of-18 baskets on their way to a 61-51 on Friday win against Andrew.
“I thought we had good energy,” Renchen said. “We were making shots, and whenever you’re making shots, it’s easy.”
The Boilers made plenty of shots in the early going to take a commanding 22-6 lead against the Thunderbolts, but it was the Boilers’ stellar defense that allowed them to jump to an early lead.
They forced seven turnovers in the first and efficiently turned them into 10 points, eight of those coming from point guard Gabe Renchen, who had a game-high six steals.
Alex Renchen modestly credited his defense and noted the improvements he saw on that end of the floor, particularly in the early going.
“I thought we were better; later on, [Andrew] made some shots, and we let them penetrate, but I think, defensively, we’re not that bad,” Alex Renchen said. “It was a good effort, and we’re pleased to get a win.”
After the Boilers looked to be running away with things with a 36-23 lead at the half, the Thunderbolts made some adjustments in the locker room and slowly got back in the game, cutting their deficit to as close as seven points in the second half.
The biggest adjustment was increasing an already thorough pressure on Gabe Renchen, who was a perfect 5 of 5 from the field in the first half and had 15 points at the break.
But in the second half, Andrew put the clamps on, hardly allowing the junior guard to touch the ball or make the crispy cuts he was able to make in the first half, holding Gabe Renchen to just a pair of made free throws in the second half.
Gabe Renchen said when the pressure was increased on him, he knew his teammates could fill the offensive void, which they did, led by Linell Jefferson’s 10 second-half points.
“[Andrew] stuck to me hard, so I had to make good cuts and get my teammates open,” Gabe Renchen said. “They can make shots, too, and we’re scoring just the same.”
The Thunderbolts’ efforts to make it a physical contest showed up in the box score, as the Boilers shot 28 free throws compared to Andrew’s five attempts from the charity stripe.
During the game, Alex Renchen told his team what the Thunderbolts were trying to do and, after the game, said the Boilers will have to play through the physicality that will come in an offense predicated on screens and cuts.
“Sometimes, you’re walking down the street and your ice cream drops, and you’ve just got to suck it up,” Alex Renchen said. “You can pick it up and lick it, or you can keep going, but you just can’t let it ruin your day.”
Seven of the eight Boilers who played scored at least five points. The Boilers won the rebounding battle by a resounding 21-10 tally.
Renchen added an assist and a block to his game-high totals of 17 points and six steals. Jefferson added four boards and an assist to his 10 points. Mikal Clarke had eight points, five rebounds and two assists.
Jakson Elliott also had five points and added three rebounds, two assists and three steals.
The Boilers are back in action with another home game today against Bulls College Prep.