BELOIT — Led by two of the most prolific scorers in Wisconsin high school basketball, Beloit Turner’s offense can be dynamic.
But when the shots aren’t falling, even a team with Alec Fruin and Nacio Villarreal on it can look rather ordinary.
At least for awhile.
Upstart Brodhead jumped out to a 17-5 lead as the Trojans sputtered, but instead of panic, the hosts showed resolve. They ramped up their own defense and used it to fuel their offense as they roared past the Cardinals, 84-63.
It sure didn’t look like it would be that easy the Trojans early on.
“In the early stages of the game we were moving through quicksand and Brodhead had a real good game plan,” Turner head coach Ken Watkins said. “They came out in a triangle-and-two defensively and offensively they really tried to be patient. We needed to speed up the tempo a bit. We put in a press we’ve run years passed and we haven’t practiced one time this year. Our guys did a great job creating some chaos and some turnovers.”
They quickly turned those turnovers into fastbreak opportunities.
“It was turnovers and fastbreak layups that really sparked them and buried us,” Brodhead head coach Nick Jarvis said. “They wanted to speed us up and they were successful. You end up taking some shots you don’t want or you get some good shots, but you rush them and they don’t go.”
Fruin, who led Turner with 30 points, said, “The turnovers we forced got us back in the game by getting us some easy shots. We came out flat and they came out in a triangle-and-two and took it to us. Getting into that press really woke us up.”
Turner finally tied it at 21-21 on a 3-pointer by freshman Jordan Majeed with 5:37 left in the first half. A free throw by Villarreal, who had 23 points, gave Turner the lead for good 11 seconds later.
The Cardinals tried to hang on and were still with four, 28-24, when the Trojans pulled off a real rarity — a seven-point possession. Villarreal started it off with a three-pointer with 1:15 left to play. He was fouled as well and it was deemed to be on the floor after the shot so he went to the free-throw line in the bonus. He converted the first and missed the second, but that worked out for the Trojans because they rebounded the miss and Majeed buried a three-pointer to put them up 35-24.
Backup guard Nolan Swanson then hit one final trey in the half to put Turner up 38-28,
“That seven-point possession killed us as well as that final three,” Jarvis said. “Their role players did a nice job.”
The second half was more of the same. A basket by Fruin with 13 1/2 minutes left opened up the lead to 51-35. He had 20 of his points after halftime.
“We finished the first half really well with great energy,” Fruin said. “We figured the first three minutes of the second half were going to dictate what happened in this game. We came out with the same energy and took it to them.”
Turner improved to 4-1 in the Rock Valley Conference South Division and 7-3 overall. Brodhead slipped to 1-4 and 2-7.
“Nacio and Alec make us a real tough matchup,” Watkins said. “If we can shore up our defense and keep teams out of the paint more consistently I think we’ll have better success against more elite teams.”
The Trojans are still waiting the debut of 6-foot-6 freshman Dai’Vontrelle Strong who has been sidelined after breaking his leg in football.
“He has been cleared to practice and I hope in a week or two he will get cleared for games,” Watkins said. “Realistically, it’s probably the end of January. He is very athletic and he’s 6-6. That’s a nice combination.”
As for Brodhead, Jarvis is encouraged.
“I thought we played together and we competed most possessions even when we were tired,” he said. “We just need to keep bringing that energy and focus to practice.”
• NOTES: Turner converted 10-of-28 three-point shots and 23-of-34 two-pointers. Brodhead was 16-of-34 on twos and 5-of-11 on threes. ...Majeed finished with 11 points. ...Justice Tway led Brodhead with 18 points. Parker Johnson had 14 and Brekan Day 12.