By Bud Milroy
The struggles continued for the Catholic Central High School boys basketball team, as The Prairie School held off the Hilltoppers Jan. 8 in Racine, 41-38, and Kenosha St. Joseph’s visit to Burlington Friday left the hosts on the short end of a 48-43 loss.
“We’re playing with great effort and are doing some good things,” said CCHS coach Eric Henderson, whose team fell to 1-10 overall, 0-8 in the Metro Classic Conference. “We’re just not doing enough to get over the hump. We seem to have a bad stretch in each game and that tends to do us in.”
At Prairie, the game was back and forth the whole way, with Prairie leading by three at the half and CCHS cutting that margin by one in the third quarter.
In the final stanza, the Hilltoppers were within a point with a minute to play but as they held the ball for a final attempt, Prairie got a steal and converted the subsequent free throws to make the final 41-38.
“Prairie is a solid, veteran team,” Henderson said. “Their experience was definitely the difference.”
Spencer Wilker led the Hilltoppers in scoring with 12 points.
St. Joseph’s entered Friday’s contest with a 9-2 overall record, 5-2 in the Metro Classic. The Hilltoppers gave them all they could handle.
“We played real hard, had a chance to get a big win, but at the end, we couldn’t get it done,” Henderson said.
Behind 24-18 at the half, Catholic Central made adjustments. Solid defense sparked a 16-point third quarter and reduced the deficit to just two points.
A three-pointer from Justin Williams to open the fourth quarter pushed St. Joe’s lead back to five, but CCHS responded with baskets from Bailey Wright and Ben Heilgenthal to pull within a point.
Over the next two minutes, the Hilltoppers couldn’t get anything to fall while the Lancers coverted four of six free throws. Wright’s bomb broke the drought for the Hilltoppers but on the ensuing trip down the floor, Tegan Miles picked up his fifth foul.
The Hilltoppers had some looks over the last minute and a half, but couldn’t get a shot to fall except for a putback by Heilgenthal off an errant 3-point try.
Miles led the Hilltoppers with 12 points, while Wright added eight and Heilgenthal and Mark Bittmann seven each.