HINCKLEY – Hinckley-Big Rock couldn’t stop turning the ball over in the third quarter, and Winnebago didn’t stop capitalizing off the miscues.
Carl Firch hit a 3-pointer off a Royals turnover in the third quarter. Ten seconds later, Ian Johnson connected on a three-point play as the Indians took the lead for good in a 47-33 win Tuesday.
“Tonight we stuck with it, we played hard, we got to the hole,” Winnebago coach Joe Murphy said. “We were able to slow slip in front of them.”
The Royals (13-9) led by as much as eight in the first half and 21-15 at the break but committed 10 turnovers in the third quarter. The Indians (10-7) scored 10 of their 12 points in the quarter off Hinckley-Big Rock turnovers.
The Royals took three shots from the floor in the third quarter, missing all three. Their only points came from a Ben Hintzsche free throw.
“I thought we did a nice job outside of that segment,” said H-BR coach Seth Sanderson, a former assistant under Murphy. “But obviously 10 turnovers in a quarter, I think we started pressing. We started to see that score kind of creep up a little bit, and all of a sudden we wanted to make that great pass instead of that good pass. When things are flowing, it’s great and it works. When it’s not, that’s when the turnovers come.”
After the Hitntszhe free throw, the Royals still only trailed 27-22 after three. The deficit remained five with 5:09 left, and the Royals had the ball but missed three shots on the same possession.
Firch grabbed the final rebound and went coast to coast for a layup and a foul, pushing the lead to eight and kickstarting a 7-0 run to put the game away.
After 15 points in the first half, Winnebago scored 32 in the second half. Murphy said the team was too reliant on trying to play one-on-one in the first half.
“We talked at halftime, said we have to share the ball, move cut,” Murphy said. “That’s what changed the second half. We got things moving, then we get the one-on-one play. That’s fine if you get everything moving.”
Hintzsche led the Royals with 12 points and seven rebounds.
Firch led all scorers with 16 points while Ray Maurchie added 12 for the Indians. Maurchie and Garret Asche each had seven rebounds.
Sanderson said seeing a high-pressure team like Winnebago is good heading into the conference tournament next week and the postseason next month. H-BR is the No. 2 seed in the Little 10 Conference tournament, opening play Tuesday against Newark.
Aside from the third quarter, Sanderson said he thought the team handled the press well. H-BR finished the game with 20 turnovers.
“I thought that first half we played as composed as we have against pressure,” Sanderson said. “I’m really happy with that. Coming out of the second half we got a little rattled early, and they’re just too good of a program to go through a struggle there and try to recover out of it.”