Boys basketball: Genoa-Kingston drops home opener to Pecatonica

Genoa Kingston guard Ryder Easterbrook drives around his defender to the hoop in the first quarter of their game Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023, against Pecatonica.

GENOA – Genoa-Kingston was already playing its fifth game of the year, Pecatonica its first.

But the Indians came out fast from the start, forcing turnovers and dominating the boards in an 88-43 win over the Cogs on Tuesday.

“There’s nights like this in basketball,” G-K coach Griffin McNeal said. “There’s nights where they’ve got it and you don’t. ... We just couldn’t get anything going.”

Genoa-Kingston (3-2), fresh off taking fifth at a tournament in Oregon, gave up 15 of the first 17 points and trailed 24-5 after 1 and was down as much as 43-8 in the second quarter. The Cogs didn’t score consecutive points until a 6-0 run late in the third quarter to cut the lead to 71-29.

The Indians are coming off a 30-5 season a year ago and a regional title. They didn’t play during the first week of the year due to the football team’s extended playoff run, which this year went until the 3A quarterfinals.

That gave coach Bobby Heisler some extra time to scout while his players were still entering basketball mode.

“We really just want to get up and down the floor,” Heisler said. “We like to play fast. People know that about us. And it’s our first game, so we’re trying to build our basketball legs too.”

The Indians coaxed the Cogs into 15 first-half turnovers, leading to 15 points. They had a 17-7 rebounding edge, had eight offensive boards that led to nine points, and shot 20 for 31 floor all in the first 16 minutes.

Genoa-Kingston finished the game attempting 34 shots. Pecatonica made 33.

“We were hoping they were knocking off the rust a little bit and they definitely weren’t,” McNeal said. “They came out ready to play. We talked about it, we were really going to have handle the ball well and stay in front of people on defense and we struggled to do both of those things.”

The Indians shot 63% from the floor for the game and 53% from 3-point range. They finished with a 26-14 edge on the boards.

G-K turned the ball over 20 times, leading to 19 points. McNeal said ballhandling has been a focal point for the team this year.

“We just a saw a good team that’s going to pressure the ball a lot,” McNeal said. “Now people are going to see it. We’re going to get challenged the rest of the year so it’s good to be exposed to that stuff early on.”

Mason Peterson led the Indians with 18 points, Drew Williams added 17, Jaxon Diedrich added 15 and Cooper Hoffman had 10.

“I think defensively we were pretty in tune, especially for our first game,” Heisler said. “We had some things we wanted to work on. Having an extended football season is nice in the sense it gives me as the head coach an opportunity to get out and watch some teams play. I had the opportunity to watch G-K play a handful of times.”

Nathan Kleba had 10 points to lead the Cogs. The Indians stymied Hayden Hodgson all night, holding the Cogs’ leading scorer to four points.

During the team’s three-game winning streak in Oregon, McNeal said the ball handling was much better, but now the team is going to have to adjust to the press.

“Today was a little bit of an outlier,” McNeal said. “We’ve stressed taking care of the ball and rebounding, and we took care of the ball very well [last week.] We struggled handling the ball a little bit but it was better than we expected to start the year.”

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