Cougars Men’s Basketball rolls in home opener

Alex Staab – ICC Harbinger

East Peoria, IL – Basketball is back at the CougarPlex, and the Men’s Basketball team got their home regular season opener in against the Kennedy King Statesmen Tuesday night.

It was a low-scoring affair to start. Although it played like a game that you couldn’t clearly tell who had the advantage, the Cougars went into the halftime locker room with a 37-20 lead. The glaring stat from the first 20 minutes was that the visiting Statesmen had only made six of their 25 first half shot attempts, while ICC made 11 of their 30.

The second half saw improvement from the visitors. It just happened to be one of those cases of too little too late, and a late dunk by Martrellian Gibson (So. – Rantoul) iced the game for the Cougars, taking a 86-64 win in their home opener.

After the game, Head Coach Tony Wysinger thought that there’s still work to do for his team.

“We’re still learning what individuals can do. We had two guys that played tonight, this was their second game ever. I’m still learning things I can do.”

Despite a 22-point win for the Cougars, they were actually out-rebounded by Kennedy King, 43-41. Wysinger believes that it was one simple thing that made the difference, offsetting the rebounding deficit.

“Shot making. Trey (Owens) made some jump shots, and then he opened it up for Dillon (Gilkey), and we were able to get (Demonte) Sims to the basket.”

Another bright spot for the Cougars offensively was their free throw shooting, an aspect of the team’s game that Coach Wysinger says has been an “Achilles heel” throughout his now 18 years as head coach. The Cougars finished the game having gone 24-32 from the stripe, with Gibson leading the way, going 8-12.

This certainly isn’t Wysinger’s largest roster in terms of number of players, but he thinks that doesn’t necessarily show itself as a negative.

“It’s a flexible thing that we do. I’m used to having 16 guys play. So what’s happening is a blessing in disguise, where I would rotate guys that are playing a lot more minutes.”

The Men’s Basketball team makes a trip southeast down to Fort Myers, Florida this Friday and Saturday, where they will participate in the Florida Southwest Classic. They are not scheduled to play another home game until November 29th against Rock Valley, where they are the nightcap of a men’s and women’s basketball doubleheader, with the Women’s team tipping off at 5:30, and the men tipping off at approximately 7:30.

Harbinger Sports Twitter: @ICCSportsLive | Alex Staab Twitter: @StaabAlex

Cougars Statistical Leaders: 

Field Goals | Trey Owens (6 for 10)

Three-Pointers | Trey Owens (5 for 9)

Free Throws | Martrellian Gibson (8 for 12)

Rebounds | Martrellian Gibson (10)

Assists | Dillon Gilkey (4)

Steals | Martrellian Gibson (4)

Points | Martrellian Gibson (16)

Team Stats:

Field Goals | 26 for 63 (41%)

Three-Pointers | 10 for 29 (34%)

Free Throws | 24 for 32 (75%)

Rebounds | 41

Assists | 11

Steals | 10


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