By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor
On nights other than the too few when their collective “shooting eye” is on, the Chillicothe High School basketball Hornets have to play outstanding basketball in the other phases of the game – rebounding, defense, ballhandling – just to have a chance to win this season.
Friday night, in one of the most-winnable games they had remaining on their 2012-13 schedule, breakdowns in two of those non-scoring areas kept them from chalking up an eighth win and likely consigned them to a basement finish in the Midland Empire Conference.
The Savannah Savages snared almost as many offensive rebounds as CHS did defensive ones and the Hornets' guard-heavy lineup nevertheless turned the ball over 22 times by team statisticians' count as the Hornets (7-14, 1-4 MEC) fell at home, 49-42.
“That's just a combination of we weren't doing our jobs well enough and they were being very aggressive,” second-year Hornets head coach Tim Cool said of Savannah's 15 snares off the offensive glass, compared to his team's 18 defensive grabs. “They were assuming it was coming off and they were going to get it.
“That's something we've got to get better at.”
As to his squad's limited scoring, he indicated it was a mix of what Savannah did on defense and his team was not able to do when it had the ball – both in terms of converting shots and valuing the ball.
“We just didn't do enough offensively,” he remarked, hastening to add, “but it wasn't because we weren't trying.
“Savannah – their schemes are good, they run good stuff on defense and really take you away from some of the things you want to do.”
Neither team was effective at putting the ball in the hole. The Hornets actually out-shot Savannah by a minuscule amount – 36.6 percent to 36.4. However, by having seven fewer turnovers and eight more offensive boards, the Savages attempted three more shots from the floor and, in part due to some strategic fouling in the closing minutes, shot 19 more free throws that the home club.
Asked in his post-game broadcast interview what his team needs to do to turn close, hard-fought losses into close, hard-fought wins, Cool responded, “If I could answer that question, I would sure be doing it.
“I feel like they deserve better. We're just not able to get it done right now.”
Aware his team now has twice as many losses as victories and, with only games remaining against league leader St. Joseph: Lafayette tomorrow night and Cameron Friday, faces an uphill battle to avoid at least sharing the MEC basement at season's end, the Hornets coach insisted the records are not true indicators of the team's overall performance this season.
Page 2 of 2 - “We are absolutely not defined by our record,” Cool said. “Those guys are playing hard; they're good-character kids and I am really proud of them.”