RANTOUL — When the offense is crisp, the Rantoul boys’ basketball team follows suit with its defensive play.
When it doesn’t? The Eagles struggle. Such was the case in a decisive third quarter that turned the tide against Bloomington Central Catholic.
Rantoul lost its Corn Belt Conference opener 75-64 to the Saints and extended its losing streak to three games.
“When a lot of guys aren’t hitting their shots, that carries over to the defensive side of the floor,” Rantoul coach Brett Frerichs said. “That’s what we pride ourselves on is our defense. There was still a lot of standing around and not running any offense. There was no ball movement. It was pretty easy defensively (for Bloomington Central Catholic).”
The Saints (2-3, 1-0) opened the third quarter on a 9-0 run to take control of the game and never let the Eagles cut the deficit to fewer than four points the rest of the game. BCC sophomore guard Jake Reinhart led all scorers with 25 points, including 19 in the second half.
“He hit some shots, but not only did he hit some shots, he played pretty well on the defensive end,” Saints coach Jason Welch said. “We needed somebody to step up, and Jake did that tonight.”
The Eagles missed their first 10 shots of the second half and never recovered after that.
Rantoul junior guard Talon Hardin led the Eagles (3-3, 0-1) with 19 points and five assists, but the third quarter woes were too much for Rantoul to overcome.
“We just didn’t come out to play,” said Hardin, who sank four three-pointers. “We’ve just got to get over that hump. We just need to mature. We’ve got to get used to not having those letdowns because we seem to have one every game in the third or fourth quarter.”
Junior guards Tanner McLain (14 points) and Josh Oliveras (14 points) contributed offensively, and senior forward Greg Morrow added 11 rebounds.
But the Saints’ shooting in the second half — 15 of 28 (54 percent) and 26 of 53 (49 percent) for the game — made sure the Eagles would walk off their court with a loss in their home opener.
“They had everyone back, and it showed,” Frerichs said. “It showed they were the more experienced team.”