Weekly Feature

2008-01-02 / Sports

Short-handed Sweet Home at a crossroad

by PATRICK J. NAGY Reporter

It's only seven games into the season but the Sweet Home boys basketball team could be in trouble.

For a variety of reasons, Panthers coach Paul Schintzius could only dress seven of the 13 players on his roster for the Ken-Ton Holiday Classic held last Thursday and Friday at Kenmore East. Sweet Home lost both of its games at the tournament, falling to eventual tournament champion, Sweet Home, 66-62, on Thursday and Cardinal O'Hara, 65-52, in the consolation game, on Friday.

Sweet Home opened against Kenmore West with an 18-16 lead after the first quarter but the Panthers were outscored 15-8 in the second quarter and trailed, 31-26, at halftime. Kenmore West extended its lead to 46-42 after the third quarter.

Sweet Home coach Paul Schintzius said his team cut the deficit to two with a minute remaining in regulation but a layup by Kenmore West's Wade Josiah and 4 of 4 free throws by Jackson Kocak sealed the Blue Devil win. Kenmore West made 10 of 11 free throws in the game.

"They earned the victory," said Schintzius. "It wasn't as much as we lost as they beat us."

Tournament MVP Edwin Ramulic killed the Panthers inside, scoring a game-high 31 points and grabbing 12 rebounds. Ramulic was matched inside by Sweet Home senior Ali Ramadan, who scored 10 points and picked up three of his four fouls in the first half.

Senior guard Jamel Werts led the Panthers with 26 points. Senior point guard Brian Pappagallo gutted out a sprained ankle midway through the game to finish with 16 points.

Pappagallo did not play against O'Hara, which led Sweet Home, 32-31, at halftime and, 47-40, after the third quarter. Sweet Home was up, 18-15, after the first quarter.

"It was close throughout the first half but there was one team in the building which the game meant everything to and there was another that looked lackadaisical and feeling sorry for themselves," said Schintzius.

Schintzius said O'Hara played a 2-3 packed in zone on defense and his team shot poorly from the field.

O'Hara's big man, 6-foot-6 James Ewing, outscored Ramadan, 21-14, inside. Ramadan, again, was in early foul trouble. Ewing made the all-tournament team.

Sweet Home junior Casey Kacz hit three three-pointers and finished with 13. Werts had 12.

Sweet Home (4-3, 3-0) will try to get out of its funk on Thursday at Lake Shore. Tip-off is set for 6:30 p.m. The Panthers haven't won on the road this season.

One of the ways Sweet Home can improve its chances of winning is playing better team defense.

"We're giving up way too many points," said Schintzius. "We pride ourselves on holding teams under 50 but we're breaking down in transition and allowing too many layups."

"We're also letting teams shoot too many foul shots," he added. "You don't foul someone 60 feet away from the basket and put them in the bonus."

Pappagallo is day-to-day with his sprained ankle.

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