Boys Basketball: Plainfield East survives Plainfield Central rally
By Dick Goss firstname.lastname@example.org February 2, 2013 12:04AM
Plainfield East's Aaron Jordan keeps the ball away from Plainfield Central's Dwight Watkins. | John Patsch~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 4, 2013 6:37AM
Last season was a 27-2 dream.
Plainfield East’s top nine players were seniors. They included 6-foot-9 center Brian Bennett, the Herald-News Player of the Year who is starting and averaging more than 10 points per game for NCAA Division I Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo.
They included All-Area guard Dee Brown, who is at Division II West Georgia. Others in the mix were all-around athletes.
This season, coach Branden Adkins and assistant Mike Fowler had to approach things differently. The Bengals’ roster contains three seniors, four juniors, three sophomores and two freshmen.
The future is bright, but for now, there’s so much youth.
Plainfield East (9-13, 6-4) led 45-28 late in the third quarter of Friday night’s SouthWest Prairie match-up against Plainfield Central (7-15, 2-8) and escaped 56-55 because two Wildcats shots from underneath in the closing seconds went awry.
As well as the Wildcats played, as well as they shot, in the fourth quarter, that’s not a lead you figure to fritter away.
“Youth should not be an excuse,” East coach Branden Adkins said. “But in a lot of ways, we are still trying to figure out who we are and what we can do.
“We’re not just about Aaron (Jordan). We knew we had to get others involved, and we still have to establish a post presence.”
Jordan, a 6-foot-3 sophomore with unlimited range, entered the week shooting better than 50 percent from three-point land. He hit 4-of-5 threes Friday, scored 17 points and nailed a free throw for the game’s final point with 12 seconds left.
But what about his unselfishness?
“Aaron is our leading scorer, but he’s also led us in assists at times and led in rebounding at times,” Adkins said. “He faces strong seniors who try to take him away. But he’s the ultimate team player.”
“At the beginning of the season, I wasn’t doing a good job getting my teammates involved,” Jordan said. “Now I trust them.
“Other teams are putting strong kids on me, seniors, and that makes it kind of tough. But I’m getting stronger, too.”
Jordan said playing with a lead is not always easy, especially when your opponent gets red-hot. Before missing the two potential game-winners from underneath, Central was 7-of-10 from the field, 5-of-7 on threes and 7-of-8 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter.
“We were up 17 late in the third quarter and could have put the dagger in,” Adkins said. “But they made a big bucket and we started rushing our shots.”
“Sometimes you get a lead, get too comfortable and rush shots,” said East senior guard Roger Tating, who scored six of his eight points in the final 1:11. “We did stuff that wasn’t us, and all of a sudden it’s back-and-forth.
“We really needed this one. We’re going for second place in the conference.”
Perhaps this goes in the books as the latest learning experience for the young Bengals. They came away with the “W” even though Central coach Steve Lamberti noted, “We played some of the best team defense in the fourth quarter that we’ve played all year. It was no coincidence that we came back. Our kids are disappointed we lost, but they understand it was because of the situation we put ourselves in.”