GOOSE LAKE — Prince of Peace boys basketball coach Gerry Murphy walked out the visitors’ locker room Tuesday night with a puzzled look on his face.
He’ll be the first to admit that he’s crazy for still coaching basketball after many years, but this time around, he’s not sure what else to tell his guys after a loss in which they could have played better.
Northeast defeated Prince of Peace 72-44, remaining unbeaten in the early season. The Rebels, ranked ninth in Iowa Class 2A, started by outscoring the Irish 16-7 in the first quarter, and that was with the Irish not scoring a single point for the first 6:02 until Lucas Laufenberg hit a layup on which he was fouled.
After winning the season opener, the Irish have dropped five straight.
“We didn’t come out and play a full 32 minutes tonight,” Murphy said. “We have to start from square one once again; we can’t play 16 minutes a night and expect to win.”
Murphy says the team does not have the right mindset coming into each game.
“Every possession is important, and we don’t have that mentality from one to 11 on our team right now,” he said, “and until we get that, we will get the same results.
“It comes down to pride and wanting to be a competitor every time we step out on the floor.”
Meanwhile, the Rebels had two separate streaks where they scored a combined 27 unanswered points. In the first quarter, it was 14-0 before the Laufenberg basket, and a third-quarter run featured guard Eli Kaczinski scoring nine of his 13 points in the quarter. The team scored a total of 24 in the third quarter.
“Our coaches said that if we were open to take the shot, and I felt good shooting, and the coaches told us to pour it on them in the second half,” said Kaczinski, who ended up with a game-high 23 points.
It wasn’t just the offense that was on point for the Rebels. Kaczinski enjoyed the challenge of putting pressure on the Irish from the opening tip.
“We wanted to start out in a 2-3 scramble, but we didn’t think it was working as well as we wanted it to, but we got through it and our student section pumped us up to play good defense,” Kaczinski said.
Rebels coach Travis Eversmeyer said Kaczinski needed to play at the level he needed to in order for the team to be successful.
“I told him during a timeout to play like he’s the best player on the floor, then he goes out and hits three 3-pointers,” Eversmeyer said. “He’s been so up-and-down emotionally, and that hinders him a little bit, but he’s been our leading scorer throughout the year.”
It might have been the Eli Show in the third quarter, but Eversmeyer said the win was an all-around team effort.
“We got pieces from everyone tonight,” he said. “Matthew Haferbier rebounded the crap out of the ball, Damon (Diedrich) facilitates us so well, and Nick (Wall) had a nice dunk tonight.”
Eversmeyer may not have the type of issues that Murphy is having with his team right now, but he respects how Prince of Peace plays.
“They play really hard,” he said. “Every 50-50 ball on the floor is usually going to be won by Prince of Peace, and coach Murphy does an excellent job of getting the most out of his players. They’ll be fine.”
NORTHEAST 72, PRINCE OF PEACE 44
NORTHEAST (6-0) — Kyle Dell 2 1-2 5, Ryan Murphy 1 0-0 2, Damon Diedrich 3 2-3 9, Will Hasken 3 0-0 6, Matthew Haferbier 0 4-5 4, Nick Wall 6 0-2 12, Nick Anderson 0 2-2 2, Eli Kaczinski 9 1-2 23, Adam Cain 0 0-0 0, Ketzalli Dondiego 0 1-2 1, Ethan Krogman 1 0-0 2, Brendon Butler 3 0-2 6. Totals 28 11-20 72.
PRINCE OF PEACE (1-5) — Quin Schnier 1 0-0 2, Lucas Laufenberg 6 1-3 13, AJ Williams 2 1-2 5, Caleb Kitteringham 0 1-5 1, Jacob Janikowski 1 2-2 4, Nic Roth 4 0-1 8, Seth Moeller 3 0-0 6, Andrey Drury 1 0-0 3, Will Andresen 0 0-0 0, Aedan Marlowe 1 0-3 2. Totals 19 3-16 44.
Prince of Peace 7 14 11 12 — 44
Northeast 16 14 24 18 — 72
3-point goals — Prince of Peace 1 (Drury); Northeast 5 (Kaczinski 4, Diedrich). Total fouls — Prince of Peace 10, Northeast 15. Fouled out — None.