ROCKTON—The Hononegah boys basketball team was finally fully assembled Wednesday night.
That doesn’t mean, however, that they are a finished product.
The Indians fell to visiting Harlem 63-58 to fall to 7-16 overall and 3-8 in NIC-10 play.
Making his season debut for the Indians was junior Trent Devries, who tore his ACL while in the midst of a banner summer campaign.
With Jarrett Strate-Lutzow also mended from his injury, Hononegah had the missing 40 percent of its starting lineup.
“The best thing about tonight was that we had more of our team than we thought we’d have coming into the season,” Miller said. “And we’re only going to get better as we figure out who we are, which we’ve had to do about 12 different times this year.”
The Indians rode a hot start from senior Chris Akelaitis (nine points) to a 16-12 lead heading into the second quarter.
But the Huskies’ long-distance marksmanship would soon be displayed as Harlem embarked on a 10-0 run to take a 27-21 lead lead in the second quarter.
The Huskies carried a 30-26 lead into intermission and eventually went up 41-30 before the Indians crawled back into the game with a 7-0 run to close the quarter.
Harlem continued to pound Hononegah on the glass and make its free throws to close the game out, despite a late charge by the Indians that left them down 55-51 with 55 seconds to play.
The Huskies nailed all eight free throws down the stretch to seal the game.
Miller said the team has significant progress to make.
“While I don’t think we were very good offensively tonight, we lost the game on defense,” Miller said. “We knew Harlem was going to come in and play with energy and beat us on the boards. We knew there were certain guys we couldn’t let catch and shoot, and we just provided no resistance defensively. And we were 12-for-21 from the line and they were 14-for-15. That was the game. We’ve got to have more ‘try’ than we did tonight.”
Miller said the lack of effort defensively was the opposite of what the Indians’ identity has been this season.
“All season long, with guys in and out of the lineup and us never really healthy, we’ve been a team that shows up and works really hard,” Miller said. “I don’t know why, but tonight that wasn’t there like we needed it to be. Now that we’re a full team, we need to find the right balance for us.”
Akelaitis finished with 21 points for the Indians, while Strate-Lutzow had 14. In his long-awaited return, Devries had eight points in a performance that had its ups and downs as expected.
“I was really nervous, especially at the start of the game,” Devries said. “It felt great to be out there. I’d been practicing for about a month, so I felt 100 percent ready. They played really good defense and made it hard for us.”
Harlem was led by Dominic Dawsey, who sank five 3-pointers and all six of his free throws to finish with 21 points.
The Indians will be back at it Friday when they play at Guilford.
Harlem 12 18 12 21 63
Hononegah 16 10 11 21 58
Harlem: Digiovanni 2 0-0 6, Abdel-Kireem 3 0-0 7, Meeks 2 0-0 4, Dawsey 5 6-6 21, Gordon 1 0-0 3, Casteel 3 5-5 11, Shemshedini 4 3-4 11. Totals: 20 14-15 63.
Hononegah: Devries 1 6-10 8, Zawlocki 2 1-1 6, Strate-Lutzow 6 0-2 13, Akelaitis 6 5-8 21, Roessler1 0-0 2, Golter 3 0-0 8. Totals: 19 12-21 58.
3-pointers: Harlem 9 (Digiovanni 2, Abdek-Kireem, Dawsey 5, Gordon). Hononegah 8 (Zawlocki, Strate-Lutzow, Akelaitis 4, Golter 2). Total fouls: Harlem 14, Hononegah 16