ST. JOSEPH — As the final buzzer rang, St. Joseph-Ogden's boys' basketball team felt a familiar feeling, and it was not pleasant.
The Spartans erased a 15-point deficit to draw within two points of CPCI, but their final shot bounced wide of the hoop, letting the Timberwolves walk out with a 51-48 win Friday night. The result was almost identical to the team's loss last Friday at Marshall, in which the Spartans rallied from 20 points down to see their final shot fall short.
"That's two weeks in a row where we didn't come to play against good teams, and we paid the price both times," SJ-O coach Brian Brooks said.
CPCI (13-6, 4-1 Sangamon Valley Conference) bossed the hosts around early in the game. They neutralized SJ-O (15-6, 3-1) in the interior, limiting its offensive rebounds and second-chance shots. At the other end, however, the Timberwolves scored many points in the paint.
The difference in the game, according to CPCI coach Kevin Long, was his team's work inside. The Timberwolves continued their solid post play in the second half, including sinking all 11 of their baskets in the paint in the final 16 minutes.
"That's something we've been trying to get our kids to understand: how important points in the paint are," Long said. "We're happy to get out of here with the win."
Turnovers were also an issue early in the game. Four of SJ-O's first five possessions resulted in turnovers. It was tough for Brooks to watch.
"We needed to be more patient offensively ... we didn't do that; we settled for contested shots," Brooks said.
Besides CPCI's defense, Cole Hasselbring was tough on the Spartans. He helped the Timberwolves take a 15-point lead in the third quarter, scoring eight of his game-high 21 points in the period.
The Spartans battled back, though, with their three-point shooting, sinking seven threes in the second half to close the gap.
"Our defense didn't let up," Long said. "We knew they had a run in them."
With 47 seconds to play, Louis Acklin made a three. Forward Brent Schluter followed that with a three of his own, cutting the deficit to five. On the next possession, Acklin, surrounded by defenders, drilled another three, bringing SJ-O within 50-48 with 12 seconds to play.
CPCI guard Sterling Young made one free throw at the other end, and the Spartans hurried downcourt for a final shot. Nate Michael found Acklin open in the corner and the junior put up his shot before the buzzer, but it glanced off the rim.
Acklin finished with nine points, all threes. Schluter led the Spartans with 11.