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Bobcats Rally past Blue Devils

by Jim Baranski

Except for a 4-3 lead, Beecher trailed Peotone for most of the first 20 minutes in its Coal City/Manteno Tip-Off tournament on November 20. However, midway in the third period, the Bobcats took the lead for good at 31-30.

Beecher finished the contest with a 21-8 run and won 50-38 in the pool play.

“I was really proud of the battle that our guys put forth tonight,” Beecher coach Tyler Shireman said. “We bounced back from the first game loss.”

The day before, Beecher fell 70-50 to the host Manteno. The Bobcats received 10 points from Sebastian Linan and Francis Eckhardt. Hunter Eastham added nine.

Eastham, who is limited with a back injury, sat out the first half against Peotone, but the senior had a big impact in the third quarter rally.

At the onset of the second half, Nathan Soch buried a trey from the corner. Soch followed with a steal and layup. Suddenly, the Bobcats trailed 23-22.

Kyle Gasik retaliated with a fast break layup for Peotone. After Bobcat DeShawn countered with a jumper, Gasik drilled a three-pointer from the key for a 28-24 Blue Devil lead. However, Beecher forged a 29-28 lead on a basket by Doss, along with free throws by Eckhardt and Eastham (2).

Nick Scoppo (11 points) worked in the paint with a bucket, and Peotone grabbed the advantage 30-29. However, it was the last Blue Devil lead.

Doss hit a jumper and followed it with baseline three. After a Doss charity toss, Eastham knocked down a three-pointer from the key for a 38-30 lead. Scoppo scored off a drive to make 38-32 at the end of the period.

Doss scored 10 of his 14 points in the pivotal third stanza.

“I had to hit some hits,” Doss said. “But the whole team was gaining some confidence. Hunter really gave us a boost.”

Unfortunately, Eastham hurt his back on a no-call collision on a fast break. Despite his absence, the Bobcats opened the fourth quarter with a 6-2 run. Soch (13 points) and Eckhardt scored in the paint. Soch made it 44-34 as he drove the baseline for a bucket.

Freshman Duane Doss iced the game hitting four straight free throws.

“Duane received his varsity jersey a couple of days ago,” Shireman said. “He is hard to keep off the court. He and his brother are able to control the tempo. At the end, those were big free throws.”

For Peotone, it was another tough loss.

“We had a solid effort,” first-year Peotone coach Eric Peppmuller said. “Everyone is playing hard, but we missed veteran Caleb Hunter (to injury) on the inside tonight. I wanted to think we put Monday’s loss behind, but it may have been in the back of our minds.

Peotone lost to IC Catholic 70-69 on a long bank shot. The Blue Devils had a 15-point lead entering the fourth quarter. Over the middle two quarters, Peotone outpointed Knights 39-19.

Danny Walsh topped Peotone with 18 points, one more than teammate Dylan Bettenhausen. Gaslik tossed in 14 points, and Hunter had 11 points.

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