Trail Blazers unable to meet challenge Bears present in suffering double-digit loss

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QUINCY — Coming out of the holiday break, John Wood Community College men’s basketball coach Brad Hoyt gave his team an immediate challenge.

The Trail Blazers struggled to meet it.

Des Moines Area Community College, ranked 15th in the latest NJCAA Division II national poll, used an opening salvo that created an 11-point lead in the first four minutes and JWCC never recovered, suffering a 76-53 loss Wednesday night at the Student Activity Center.

“A little disappointing coming off a break,” Hoyt said. “But I think it was a combination of both (DMACC and JWCC). I don’t think we made it hard on them, but I think they made it hard on us. They’re a really good basketball team.”

Things were rocky from the start.

Hoyt burned a timeout at the 15:36 mark of the first half after the Bears raced out to 17-6 lead. The Trail Blazers never could get the lead to single digits. A DMACC 14-3 run over a seven-minute stretch extended the lead to 44-25 at the half.

Starting four players 6-foot-5 or taller, DMACC controlled the rim in the opening 20 minutes. The Bears outscored the Trail Blazers by 16 in the paint, had 12 more second-chance points, and grabbed more offensive rebounds than the Trail Blazers had total rebounds.

“They did a heck of a job, and they were ready to play. We weren’t,” Hoyt said. 

Regarding the size disparity, Hoyt said, “We’re used to seeing physical, big teams like that. That’s not abnormal for us, but we’ve got to do things a certain way. And quite frankly, we didn’t.”

The second half got off to a better start as John Wood forced 8 DMACC turnovers in the first 11 possessions. However, the Trail Blazers could only cut the deficit to 13.

“We were taking tough, contested shots,” Hoyt said. “So, we made a couple of them there in the second half. At some point, basketball is designed to become easy. You’re supposed to be able to use what you do to make it a little bit easier. And for whatever reason, and a little out of character for us, we chose not to make it easy tonight.”

John Wood (9-6) beat DMACC 83-75 on the road in December, handing the Bears their first loss of the season. With Mid-West Athletic Conference play looming — league play begins January 18 — Hoyt saw the rematch as an opportunity to prep for the4 MWAC grind.

“When we play a team twice, then we have to give a wrinkle to what we do,” Hoyt explained. “We did. We put in about three or four new sets here this past week. And unfortunately, I didn’t do a very good job teaching it because we had no idea what those four or five sets were. So we didn’t get the execution we wanted out of it. But that’s an example of league-type play.”

Sophomore Jensen Whiteman led the Trail Blazers with 15 points. Jeremiah Talton, who is averaging 23.2 points for the Trail Blazers, was limited to eight points on just 2-of-8 shooting from the field.

John Wood plays two more non-conference games before MWAC play begins, including Saturday’s trip to face Southeastern Community College in West Burlington, Iowa. The Blackhawks (14-3) are ranked 20th in the NCJAA Division I poll.

“We’re still trying to figure out who we are,” Hoyt said. “Our identity tonight was really, really lost. We’ve got to get back in the lab and try to fix it.”

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