Boys basketball: Logan Aukland, Streator roll by Herscher 64-29 in Pops opener

Bulldogs score game’s first 16 points in ICE Conference romp

Streator's Quinn Baker shoots past Herscher's Jacob McCree (34) and Tanner Jones (25) on Friday, Dec. 1, 2023, at Streator's Pops Dale Gymnasium.

STREATOR – The Streator Bulldogs have been awfully good on their home court at Pops Dale Gymnasium in recent years.

They were awfully good Friday night in their 2023-24 home opener, too.

Streator scored the game’s initial 16 points en route to a running-clock, 64-29 triumph at the Pops over visiting Illinois Central Eight Conference foe Herscher. Bulldogs senior Logan Aukland helped set the tone 21 seconds in with a 3-point swish for the first points of the night on his way to a 22-point, five-rebound, five-steal performance.

“It was good,” said Aukland, who like most of the Bulldogs starters sat the entirety of the fourth quarter with the home team comfortably ahead. “The crowd was behind us. It felt good to take the floor.

“Defense, that’s all it was. Playing gaps, applying pressure. [Herscher] hadn’t seen pressure like that yet, so we brought it to ’em.”

Logan Aukland

Streator is 3-2 overall and 1-0 on the ICE loop heading into Tuesday’s home game against Reed-Custer. Herscher falls to 1-4, 0-1.

“All in all, great effort in an unbelievable environment to play,” Streator coach Beau Doty said. “It’s a definite home-court advantage for us, in our league and in our noncons. Hopefully, it’s something we can build off of. ...

“We’ve got a lot of things we can clean up and get better at, but obviously we’re feeling really good about how our kids executed what we wanted to do tonight.”

Friday’s contest was never in doubt.

Following Aukland’s opening 3 off an Isaiah Weibel assist, Christian Benning added a 2-pointer, Landon Muntz sank two free throws, Aukland canned another 3, and the Bulldogs’ lead reached double digits before the midpoint of the first quarter. That advantage waxed to 20 points (30-8) on a Benning 3-pointer with 3:35 to go until halftime, 30 (45-14) on a Weibel 3 just over two minutes into the second half and 40 points (54-14) on a bucket from Nolan Lukach in the closing minutes of the third quarter.

While Aukland led the way going 8 of 9 from the field (3 of 4 from 3-point range) and 3 for 3 from the free-throw line, Benning added 14 points and six rebounds, Lukach combined eight points with six rebounds, Muntz scored six points, and starting center Quinn Baker pitched in five points. Weibel tallied three steals to go with his three points.

Streator outrebounded Herscher 28-23, outshot the Tigers 48.1%30.8% from the field and won the turnovers forced battle 23-10. That last statistic is a little misleading, as through three quarters the Bulldogs, using constant pressure on the basketball, were winning in takeaways 21-5.

“That was a big point of emphasis to us – first home game, coming out with a disciplined kind of energy,” Doty said. “We don’t want to come out and be undisciplined, reaching, slapping, getting in foul trouble, and we were able to establish an identity being able to pressure in the full court. We have the depth and the athletes to do that, and we’re starting to get the competitive edge to do that.

“So I thought we did a great job keeping [Herscher] on their heels.”

Jacob McCree led Herscher with 11 points and six rebounds. Payten Young added nine points.

Streator's Logan Aukland (23) steals the ball from Herscher's Austin Buckley in the second quarter at Pops Dale Gymnasium on Dec. 1, 2023.