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ALTAMONT – After losing in the first round of the National Trail Conference Tournament last Tuesday, St. Elmo/Brownstown coach Greg Feezel put his players through a “purpose practice” the next day.
Designed to keep the Eagles in position to continue playing in the 79th annual tournament, the extra work paid off in last Thursday’s consolation semifinal game.
Though, just barely.
After playing its best first half of the season, SEB played equally as poor in the third quarter to let Windsor cut a 27-point deficit back to single digits.
Fortunately for the fifth-seeded Eagles, their lead was too wide a margin to fully overcome, and they went on to beat No. 9 Windsor, 70-63, for the second time this season to advance to the fifth-place game.
“After the practice last night – the purpose practice that we had – yeah, I figured we would come out with that kind of fire, because you better, and they understood that,” Feezel said. “For some reason, when we came out of halftime, things didn’t come out like we wanted.”
The Eagles scored 50 points in the first half, shooting a staggering 75 percent (21-of-28) from the field. Included was the 1,000th point in the career of senior Levi Maxey.
That success did not continue in the second half, however, as the Eagles (13-8) committed nine turnovers in the third period and were outscored by Windsor, 24-4, as the Blue Devils cut the 50-27 lead to 54-47.
“The second half? Don’t ask me,” Feezel said. “I just can’t put my finger on how we can do that stuff, but at least we held on.”
Windsor was unable to get any closer than the seven-point margin, however, as the teams played even basketball in the fourth quarter
There was a significant uptick in the number of fouls called over the final two quarters, as referees blew their whistles 23 times in the second half and just 13 times in the first half.
“I did think the game changed the way it was called in the second half,” Feezel said. “I thought it got too tight, and that’s both ways.
“The kids got tight – both teams did – but when that’s the way it’s called, you have to adapt to it.”
Foul calls were comparable, with 20 against SEB and 16 against Windsor.
SEB looked pretty well unstoppable in the first half, with sophomore Malachi Maxey scoring all of his career-high 22 points in the first 16 minutes, senior Jacob Behrends scoring 14 of his 21 points and freshman Landon Feezel posting 10 points.
“Malachi and Landon played really well in the first half,” Greg Feezel said. “Jacob was steady all night long.”
Levi Maxey scored the biggest shot of the game, however, securing his 1,000th career point on a layup, with 2:57 left in the first half.
“You could see the weight go off of his shoulders,” Feezel said. “I am happy for him, and glad he got it. He deserves it.”
Alex Allen had a game-high 28 points for Windsor, which also lost to SEB, 73-52, on Jan. 25.
Thursday, Jan. 30
Points: M. Maxey, 22; Behrends, 21; Feezel, 14; L. Maxey, 9; Hardimon, 4.
Rebounds: M. Maxey, 7; Cole Smithson, 7; Feezel, 6; L. Maxey, 5; Team, 4; Behrends, 2; Hardimon, 2; Eric Neeley, 1.
Assists: L. Maxey, 7; Behrends, 6; M. Maxey, 2; Feezel, 1; Smithson, 1.
Steals: Behrends, 4; L. Maxey, 4; M. Maxey, 2.
Block: Feezel, 1.