OREGON – From the start of the second quarter to the end of the game, Oregon and Winnebago each had 46 points Friday night at the Blackhawk Center.
It was the first quarter, though, that spelled a 62-52 Hawks defeat in the Class 2A Oregon Regional championship.
Winnebago (28-0) jumped out to a 16-6 lead and never let Oregon (15-14) get any closer than five points.
“We had first-quarter jitters and just turned it over too much,” Oregon coach Quinn Virgil said. “We’re not used to playing in front of this many people. I could see it our faces when we were warming up.”
Using a nine-man rotation, Winnebago’s full-court press flustered Oregon while stirring up the large ‘Bago crowd. Brent Campbell and Ryan Swigart rejected two of Caleb Mowry’s shots early, too.
“I think those were big blocks,” Winnebago coach Joe Murphy said. “They didn’t go back to him much until the fourth quarter.”
Mowry had a game-high 20 points, but only eight in the first three quarters. The 6-foot-5 all-state candidate scored two straight baskets early in the third quarter to help Oregon close to within 34-28 after trailing 30-19.
Poor shooting by Winnebago, which was only 12-for-36 at that point in the game, also helped Oregon. A Holden White steal gave the ball back to Oregon, but the bottom then fell out for the Hawks.
Jessie McKinley immediately turned over the ball on a travel, White had an intentional foul, Mowry was called for charging and, to compound matters, Derek Polkowski banked in a 3-point shot at the buzzer for Winnebago.
Suddenly, the 34-28 Indian lead grew to 45-28 at the end of the quarter.
“The problem is, ‘Bago can go on runs in so many different ways,” Virgil said.
A Jacoby Posley dunk off a steal to start the fourth quarter made it 47-28, but Alex Cain ignited a 10-point run to pull his team to within 47-38 with 5 minutes remaining.
Matt Reinke responded with a 3-point basket on the other end, and the Indians regained control. Reinke and Posley each had 19 points.
“Down the stretch, that shot was big for us,” Murphy said.
“They have got so many shooters that can hurt you and can score in so many different ways off transition,” Virgil said. “It’s tough guarding both Reinke and Posley. Plus, they have other guys that can make the 3.”
Cain and Mowry added 3-pointers in the final minutes, and McKinley was 4-for-4 at the line, but the Hawks would not come any closer than nine points the rest of the game.
“We couldn’t get over the hump,” said Cain, who has played on the same AAU team with Reinke and Posley since seventh grade. “On defense, they never stop. Whenever you think someone is open, it closes so quick on you. We just got a little out of control.”
Stars of the game: Matt Reinke and Jacoby Posley, Winnebago, 19 points apiece
Key performer: Caleb Mowry, Oregon, 20 points
Up next: Byron Sectional semifinal – Winnebago vs. Aurora Christian, 7:30 Tuesday