bucsBy Bob Kopp

BDR Sports Correspondent

ROCKFORD – Go figure.

During Rockford School District 205’s 2015 Thanksgiving Tip-Off Classic, the Bucs buried South Elgin 62-47 and South Elgin buried Guilford 66-30.

Proving games are played on courts not newspapers, prognostications, or history books, the second game of conference action for the Bucs and Vikings went to the wire with Belvidere remaining undefeated in the young season by sailing past the hosts 60-57.

The first half looked like predictions from the Tip-Off Classic would be accurate.

The Vikings couldn’t find the bucket and turned over the rock so often that the Bucs took a 28-20 lead at intermission despite listless play and a plethora of turnovers and mental lapses.  Anything close to its recent dominance over North 53-31 in the opener and the Bucs would have gone into the 3rd quarter ahead by a few dozen points.

Stunningly, the hosts blistered the Bucs in every aspect of the game after the break and bolted to a 44-42 lead at the end of the 3rd quarter behind 6’3″ big body junior Tenoah Tatum who scored from inside and outside in notching nine of his game-leading 21 points.

Action in the 4th quarter was fast and furious as the lead went back and forth.

Senior Deante Barnes, the only junior to be named first-team all-NIC 10 last year, looked like someone wanting to attract attention from the next level as he led the way with fiercely convincing rebounds at both ends while knocking down 10 of his 15 points for the evening.

Head Coach Aaron Pearson masterfully managed the closing minutes of the 3rd quarter and throughout the rest of the game with prudent use of time-outs, substitutions, and his calming demeanor.  Putting senior Matt Kopp on deadly junior sharpshooter Nick Phillips when it appeared the Vikings could extend the margin was especially critical as Phillips was held to eight points on the evening with two threes.

Responding to Pearson’s composure while fans were raising the roof on both sides of the court, Barnes, who could attract major college interest if he continues his recent play, led the way with significant help in the closing seconds from juniors Jacob Rodriguez and Austin Revolinski who led scoring for the Bucs with 16 points.

Rodriguez emerged as one of the team’s best ball handlers in the closing minutes; and with 29 seconds left on the clock and pressure as thick as fog on an early December day in Boone County, the junior hit nothing but net on two free throws that helped seal a victory as Revolinski muscled to the decisive defensive rebound with eight ticks left on the clock.

Junior Xavier Dent, always steady in the paint, had 11 points with many dropped at the most critical moments in the contest.

Senior Eric Munoz added four points on a three and free throw with junior Joey Hernandez knocking down two from beyond the arc in his eight points.  Juniors Nate Horton (two) and Will Morris (two) completed the Bucs total.

Pearson’s stewardship of one of the NIC-10’s deepest utilitarian rosters will befuddle opposition throughout the season with increasing team chemistry, balanced scoring, several explosive and unpredictable offensive weapons, and genuine family atmosphere.

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