The La Salle-Peru boys basketball team remained in control of the Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference West Division with a 60-44 victory over Geneseo on Friday night at La Salle-Peru.
The Cavaliers (8-5 overall) are 4-0 in the conference with only Sterling to play in the first go through the division. The Cavs play host to Sterling (1-2 conference) at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
The L-P girls basketball team, meanwhile, continued to struggle in conference play as the Lady Cavs fell 48-36 to Geneseo.
The Lady Cavs, who fell to 1-3 in league play, will face NIB 12 West leader Sterling (4-0 conference) at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at L-P.
La Salle-Peru 60, Geneseo 44
L-P coach Jim Cherveny took a different tactic Friday.
He let the players talk at halftime while he stood in the hallway.
“I think sometimes you have to let 17- and 18-year olds communicate amongst themselves,” Cherveny said. “I have a smart group of kids. They know how they’re playing and their effort and their intensity level. … I’m sure some of the leaders stepped up and said, ‘This is what we need to do,’ and they did it.”
The Cavs straightened things out themselves and pushed a 26-22 halftime lead into a double-digit victory.
“We just got together and figured out what we had to do,” L-P senior Jens Soderholm said. “We had to keep them off the glass and we just needed to be smarter on passing and taking care of the ball.”
After the Maple Leafs closed the gap to two points at 26-24 on their first possession of the second half, L-P went on a 12-3 run to take a 38-27 lead.
The Cavs led 42-31 entering the fourth quarter and led by as many as 19 points in the final eight minutes.
“I thought in the second half we got after it much better than we did in the first half,” Cherveny said. “I thought we started out a little bit slow and gave them some second-chance opportunities. The second half we played much better. We got some transition points — some layups out of transition and some 3(-pointers) out of transition. It kind of opened the game for us and opened the floor for us.”
After being outrebounded 16-4 in the first half, the Cavs outrebounded Geneseo 15-10 in the final 16 minutes.
L-P turned four defensive rebounds into easy layups on the other end with quick outlet passes.
“They got a couple offensive rebounds in the first half, but we rebounded hard the second half and just didn’t allow them any second-chance opportunities,” said Soderholm, who grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds to go along with 14 points.
Junior guard Noah Lamboley knocked down four 3-pointers and scored a game-high 20 points, while senior guard Cameron Hight had 16 points.
“Cam shot the ball well tonight. He struggled the last few games so it’s nice to see him come out and play free and easy and shoot the basketball well,” Cherveny said. “Noah is Noah. You’re always going to get a solid performance from a heady point guard. He controls the tempo for our team. He did it once again tonight.”
Geneseo 48, La Salle-Peru 36
The Lady Cavaliers couldn’t get their offense going in the first half as they managed just two field goals and faced a 23-10 halftime deficit.
In the third quarter, L-P made an effort to get into the lane and it paid off.
Brianna and Jena Argubright each drove for a basket, while penetration led to a pair of free throws from Brianna Argubright, 4-of-4 free throws from Brittany Zawacki and a drive and kick 3-pointer from Mia Porter that brought L-P with seven at 30-23 with 3:14 left in the third.
“We attacked the basket,” L-P coach Hollis Vickery said. “During the third quarter one of the things we did say was attack the basket, and I think we’re better off when we attack the basket. Sometimes somebody is going to shut (your offense) down, and you have to be able to create offense yourself, and they know that and they did that for a while. They created some drive and kicks and some good looks.”
L-P pulled within seven points one more time in the fourth quarter following a layup and 3-pointer from Porter, but the Lady Cavs couldn’t get any closer.
“We just couldn’t get that one possession (to turn the tide),” Vickery said. “We had opportunities when we were down seven a couple times. The other thing is they hit a few shots that rattled in. That’s the game of basketball. It seemed like a lot of our shots hung on the rim and fell out. Their’s hung on the rim and went in. They made some difficult shots.”
Zawacki led the Lady Cavs (5-10) with 12 points.
Note: The L-P boys sophomore team won 47-40. Erik Milaicki scored 17 points and Luke Dresbach added nine for the Cavs (8-4, 3-1 NIB 12 West).
Kevin Chlum can be reached at 220-6939, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsEditor.