BRADLEY — Bradley-Bourbonnais’ boys basketball team took to its home court Tuesday looking to extend a four-game winning streak as the Boilers welcomed Lincoln-Way Central to town for SouthWest Suburban Conference action.
But the Boilers, who also entered play with a chance to tie themselves atop of the SWSC Red Division, suffered early foul trouble and couldn’t contain the Knights from deep in an eventual 66-49 defeat.
The loss dropped the Boilers to 14-11 on the season and 3-2 in the division.
The Knights came out hot from deep, draining four of their 10 3-pointers of the evening in the first quarter. Boilers coach Alex Renchen said some early foul trouble tested the Boilers depth and allowed the Knights to hit some shots.
“We were working to take that away — we know they were going to make some [3-pointers],” Renchen said. “I think some of the difference was that we got into foul trouble, and it took us out of a rhythm.”
Even after getting off to a hot start, the Knights didn’t do much to pull away. The Boilers were able to fight back and forced four ties during the first half before going down just six points at halftime.
Early in the third however, that foul trouble popped back up, when leading scorer Gabe Renchen picked up his fourth foul, causing him to take a breather for longer than expected.
This forced the Boilers to play catch up without their primary ball handler and shot creator, which hurt the flow of the Bradley-Bourbonnais offense in the second half.
“It kind of got us out of rhythm a little bit,” Alex Renchen said. “It kind of hurt us.”
Before his fourth foul, Gabe Renchen had been the only spark on offense for the Boilers. He totaled 11 points in the first half alone, including a 7-0 individual run, highlighted by a 4-point play.
With him sitting on the bench for most of the third quarter, the Boilers needed someone to step up and get the offense back into a flow. Coach Renchen looked no further than his 6-foot-6 center, Owen Freeman. The freshman big man turned up his post play, scoring 16 of his 21 total points in the second half.
“I thought we did a really good job trying to go inside to our strength,” Alex Renchen said. “I thought Owen did a much better job in the second half. I thought in the first half we were getting him the ball and he was a little tentative … and I thought in the second half he did a much better job.”
Late efforts by Freeman and company weren’t enough to keep the Boilers in the win column. Still, despite being just 5-5 in their past 10 games, Alex Renchen is happy with where his team is this late in the season, especially given the younger talent.
“We’ve got 14 wins this season, and we had 14 wins all of last year, and we are a lot younger this year,” he said. “So, I’m very pleased where we are at. We start a freshman [Freeman] and a sophomore [Marc Robinson], and we don’t have a lot of size besides [Freeman].”
Freeman led all scorers with 21 points, and Gabe Renchen added 15 to round out the top two scorers for the Boilers.
The Boilers are back at home at 7 p.m. Thursday to take on Rich South in nonconference action.