BELOIT - With his team down by three points heading into halftime, Beloit Memorial head coach Dondre Bell challenged his Purple Knights to quit playing so passively.
"I don't think we had our usual energy in the first half," Bell said. "I challenged them to take pride in their defense in the second half and crash the glass. That was the difference in the second half."
The Knights ran off the first 16 points after the intermission and went on to post a 63-48 Big Eight Conference victory over Janesville Parker at Barkin Arena.
"We thought we should be ahead of this team," said junior Jaden Bell, who led the Knights with 17 points. "We definitely needed to win this game so we came out with fire in the second half. We showed a lot of intensity on defense and we played our game on offense."
Parker managed to close within 40-32, but Bell started off a 9-3 run by banking in a 3-pointer from the top of the key. That's when you know things are going well.
"Yeah, I didn't think that one was going in," Bell said with a grin.
"We've been on Jaden to be more aggressive," his coach said. "He's a real good player and he's been coming on the past few games. We need him to score just like we need (Amariah) Cook, (Terrell) Ringer and (Kamryn) Bach to score."
Despite missing the front of three straight bonus situations at the free-throw line, the Knights' defense kept the Vikings (3-10, 1-8 Big Eight) spinning their wheels. A long inbound pass from bell to Markai Payne yielded a layup and a 59-42 lead. Beloit closed out the victory converting four straight free throws -- two apiece by Payne and Amariah Cook. Payne finished with 15 points, Cook added 12 and Azeez Ganiyu had 10.
The Knights may have missed a few free throws down the stretch, but shooting 12-of-19 from the line for the game was actually an improvement.
"We're shooting 58 percent from the line for the season," Coach Bell said. "You need to shoot 75 percent as a team to be successful, I believe. We're going to continue to work on it as a team. Guys just have to relax at the line and take their shots. You get 10 seconds and I think guys are shooting in their first two seconds they get the basketball. They need to take a few deep breaths and get a feel for it.
"As a team we're getting a lot better from where we were. Everyday we need to keep putting pieces in the puzzle. Hopefully, by the end of the season we'll have that puzzle complete and we'll be ready to make a run."
The Knights (3-9, 2-7 Big Eight) play at Janesville Craig at 7:15 p.m. Saturday.
"Hopefully getting our first home win will light a fire under us," Jaden Bell said. "We definitely thought we should win this game and we did. Now we have to move on and get ready for Craig."
• BOXSCORE: Beloit Memorial 65, Janesville Parker 48.
JANESVILLE PARKER (fg ft-fta pts) - Dahlke 3 0-0 8, Lippons 0 0-1 0, DeLong 1 0-0 3, Biga 1 0-0 2, Thompson 3 1-4 8, Weis 1 0-2 3, Curry 4 5-9 16, Stricklin 1 0-0 3, Hartwig 2 1-2 5. Totals: 16 7-18 48,
BELOIT MEMORIAL (fg ft-fta pts) - Ringer 1 2-3 4, Payne 6 2-2 15, Cook 4 4-7 12, Bell 6 3-5 17, Bach 1 1-2 3, Boyd 1 0-02, Ganiyu 5 0-0 10. Totals: 24 12-19 63.
Janes. Parker.............25 23 - 48
Beloit Memorial.............22 41 - 63
3-pt. Goal - JP 9 (Curry 3, Dahlke 2, Stricklin, Weis, Thompson, DeLong), BM 3 (Bell 2, Payne). Fouled out - Dahlke. Total fouls - JP 19, BM 17.
Sophomores - Beloit Memorial won, 52-46.