Trail Blazers’ season ends in unfamiliar territory with loss in Region 24 quarterfinals


John Wood Community College men's basketball coach Brad Hoyt and the Trail Blazers had their season end Wednesday night with a 93-86 loss to Spoon River in the Region 24 Tournament quarterfinals. | Matt Schuckman photo

CANTON, Ill. — The dark ride home gave John Wood Community College men’s basketball Brad Hoyt to accept there will be no tomorrow, at least not for this year’s team.

“The reality has sunk in,” Hoyt said. “You get spoiled.”

For the first time in six years, the Trail Blazers won’t play for the Region 24 Tournament championship. For only the second time in the past 11 seasons, the Trail Blazers failed to reach the semifinals of the region tournament, suffering a 93-86 loss to Spoon River College on Wednesday night in the Region 24 quarterfinals.

Allowing the Snappers to score 56 points in the first half and build a 14-point advantage spelled doom.

“The first 13 minutes, there was not a lot of resistance,” Hoyt said. “Spoon River is good. They have a lot of talented kids. They made shots. But we were running in a cloud. We were playing in a fog. Obviously, that’s not what you want to do this time of the year.”

To their credit, the Trail Blazers (15-16) fought.

Jeremiah Talton’s 3-pointer with 13:20 remaining in regulation pulled JWCC within 67-59, and his free throws 30 seconds later made it a two-possession game. Then came five consecutive empty possessions that allowed Spoon River to extend the lead back to 11 points.

Another burst that included a three-point play by Talton and back-to-back baskets by Logan Robbins pulled JWCC within 79-75 with 5:53 to play. Three consecutive empty possessions followed.

“When you battle like that and dig yourself out of a hole, it really comes down to finding that one possession that gets you over the hill,” Hoyt said. “They made plays at the right time to keep us away from that, and we had some empty possessions that could have been that play.”

Twice in the final three minutes, JWCC narrowed the deficit to three points, including closing within 87-84 on Talton’s up-and-under with 1:48 to play. He missed the free throw to complete the three-point play, and the Trail Blazers came up empty on their next two possessions.

Meanwhile, Spoon River scored on its final six possessions to ice the victory.

“The game honors toughness,” Hoyt said. “But it also honors IQ, and unfortunately, I didn’t have this group playing with the right level of IQ.”

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