Tigers Fall to Belleville West, First Ranked Team in the State

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Tigers Fall to Belleville West, First Ranked Team in the State

Coach Battas shouts at the basketball team in a home game this season.

Coach Battas shouts at the basketball team in a home game this season.

Ryan Ash

Coach Battas shouts at the basketball team in a home game this season.

Ryan Ash

Ryan Ash

Coach Battas shouts at the basketball team in a home game this season.

Loewy Noud, Staff Writer

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The EHS boys basketball team scored 33 against Belleville West on Tuesday night but eventually fell to the best team in the state.

Belleville outplayed the Tigers in the final two quarters and clenched the win 20 points ahead at 53-33.

The game started strong with the Tigers only falling a few points behind the Maroons through the first quarter. Seniors Grant Schaefer and Malik Robinson led the Tigers in defense against the strong offensive Maroons, including 6’7” Ohio State commit EJ Liddell.

“Going into the first half we knew how good they are and that if we wanted to win we had to fight,” Schaefer said. “We played the hardest a team ever has before and gave it our all. The motivation came from within, nobody had any expectations from us playing them so it was more of a ‘go out there and work and see what happens’ and we did that and kept the game close.”

With hopes high following the first half of the game, the Tigers entered the latter half determined to keep the scoring gap small. But the momentum didn’t lead the Tigers through the end and scoring opportunities became limited.

With a focus on defense, senior Matt Stopka and junior Nicholas Hemken attempted to keep the Maroon scoring low. Despite their effort, the size and ability of Belleville was apparent.

“Our biggest goal in the game was to prevent EJ from scoring, so my role was to come in there and prevent him from getting anything inside,” Stopka said. “We always work hard in practice on defense with it being one of our biggest strengths, so getting in I knew I had a huge role to fill. Our team communication on defense is huge and that’s why we are so successful with our defense, but whenever EJ would get the ball we had another guy ready to help on him.”

This eventful game adds to the 2-4 record in the first season under new head coach, Mr. Battas. After Caleb Strohmeier, Jack Marinko and RJ Wilson graduated last year, this year’s team is working to fill the roles they left. Sophomore Brennan Weller and Hemken have all been crucial to this season’s wins.

“After losing Jack, Caleb, and RJ we have had to adapt to a new style of play. Last year we had Jack and Caleb scoring the majority of our points, but this year we could have a different leading scorer every night,” Hemken said. “This year we have adapted a mentality of being a great defensive team since we don’t have a scorer like we had in Jack last year. Everyone this year has their own role and takes on their role with pride.”

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