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Mulberry Grove struggles at Vandal Shootout

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By Adam Iwans

 

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The Mulberry Grove High School boys basketball team continued its summer season at the Vandal shootout Monday and Tuesday, finishing 1-5 despite a hard-fought loss against Fairfield in tournament play. Fairfield would go on to win the shootout.
“I am extremely happy (with our effort against Fairfield). We have been losing by 30-40 points to some of these teams, but I was also playing man-to-man. This time I packed in the zone, so that helps,” Mulberry Grove head coach Mark Bollinger said. “I am happy and I’m happy for them, because otherwise, they are going to have their spirits down.”
The Aces led early against Fairfield with a three from Alex Franklin helping them pull away, 11-3, four minutes into action. However, Fairfield came back strong with a 16-5 run to take the lead, 19-16.
A late three from the Aces cut the deficit to one, but it was not enough, as Fairfield hung on for the win, 24-20.
Mulberry Grove’s lone win came against Vandalia’s second team Monday, using a dominant first half. A late layup by Courtlyn Latham helped the Aces take a 33-21 lead heading into the second half. 
The Aces struggled in the second half, but were able to hold on for the win, 42-37. Bollinger talked about his team’s biggest strength, shooting, as the Aces took a number of three-pointers throughout the shootout.
“(Our biggest strength) is definitely shooting – those kids like the three-point line. We have some ball handlers, too, that can penetrate, so we are trying to work on our mid-range and, hopefully, it will all come together and then defensively, of course, is what I stress,” Bollinger said. “We will figure out how to play – we had two freshmen in this camp and they have never played in my system.”
With four starters missing from the lineup from last season, Bollinger will turn to Franklin, among a couple of others, for leadership.
“We lost Ty (James), Jack (Criner), Austin Redfern and Shawn Iberg. (They will) definitely be hard to replace,” Bollinger said.
“It will be Alex (who will be our leader), who has a lot of experience. Jake (Linnabury) is a senior, Josh Huhn will definitely be a big part and then, of course, Michael Sloan.”