FULTON, Ill. — The Camanche Indians and Fulton Steamers put on a show to end the Eric Ottens Memorial Shootout Saturday night, and it ended with a 58-52 Indian victory.
“We knew it was their home crowd and a great environment, we knew they would make a run,” Camanche Coach Josh Davis said. “We held our composure and we got back in it.”
It was a game that was much closer than the final score indicated.
“I’m proud of all of them,” Fulton Coach RJ Coffey said. “We struggled to shoot the ball and we got way down but we fought back and we got ahead. We never stopped fighting and I couldn’t be more proud of the effort they put in tonight.”
Camanche had all the momentum early, with the Fulton offense going cold. The Indians had as much as a 14 point lead late in the second quarter.
“I thought we had some good looks, we just couldn’t make a bucket,” Coffey said. “I thought we were handling their pressure well and we got the ball in good spots we just couldn’t make shots in the first quarter. That was it.”
Coffey said his team didn’t make huge adjustments going into the second half, just kept shooting the ball. The Steamers kept chipping away to start out the second half and Fulton’s Keegan Kloepping hit a big three to end the third quarter and cut Camanche’s lead to 40-36.
“We’re not going to let him stop shooting. He was hesitant in the first half and that was his problem,” Coffey said. “He’s a shooter, he’s out guy. He’s put a lot of time into becoming a good shooter and the only time he struggles is when he hesitates and doesn’t pull the trigger. The message at halftime was keep shooting open shots, it you’re open you have to hit them. Big second half out of him.”
To start the final eight minutes of play, Cody Sanderson found Tyler Bruggenwirth in the middle for another Fulton basket. Then Sanderson took the ball himself for a layup to tie everything up at 40-40. On the next possession, Sanderson drew a foul to give Fulton a brief 41-40 lead.
“He’s a really good player,” Davis said about Sanderson. “Our whole pressure was trying to take him out of their offense. Third quarter they found him and started making plays because of it. We had to take him out of the game because he is a really good player.”
Sanderson had seven of his 14 points in the fourth quarter. With three minutes remaining and Fulton only down by two, Sanderson was hit with a foul and then a technical to foul him out of the game.
Dev Patel and Cam Soenksen carried the offense in the late runs for the Indians. Patel had seven of his 14 points in the second half, and Soenksen had all nine of his points in the second. Both his big free throws for the Indians at the end when Fulton was fouling to stop the clock.
“We held our composure when stuff for crazy at the end,” Davis said. “There were crazy calls both ways — we were fortunate to have some, they were fortunate to have some. Our composure down the stretch and I think defensively we wore them down. Once Sanderson went out, it was easier for us to pressure them.”
Calvin Ottens also pitched in 13 points for the Indians. Still, 58 points is a low scoring game for Camanche. That’s part of matching up with Fulton, who hold teams to low points with an aggressive defense.
“They want to come down and grind it out and play a game in the forties. They’re big and strong at that so we wanted take it out of them a little bit,” Davis said. “We had a lot of good individual performances, a lot of kids played great, and what a great environment for high school basketball.”
“The way we play, we want to play fast and defend hard,” Coffey said. “Camanche usually puts a lot of points up, and tonight defensively I was really happy with what we did. I don’t think we let them score their averages tonight. It was a great atmosphere and guys were getting after it. I wish it could have ended the way it was rolling, but that’s part of playing sports in a really awesome atmosphere with two really good clubs going at it.”
Camanche will tip off against Northeast at home on Tuesday, while Fulton takes on Rockridge on Tuesday on the road. Fulton is trying to stay on top of the Three Rivers Athletic Conference, which they tied for with their win against Sherrard on Friday night.
Overall, both coaches were pleased with the matchup and with how their teams played.
“Tonight was about having fun and remembering Eric and what he did for our program,” Coffey said. “We said be loose, have fun, enjoy it and soak in that type of atmosphere. I never like to lose, but we know we came out and fought.
“The way that game was going, nobody has to be ashamed with anything that happened out there. That was two good clubs going at it. It was fun, that’s what basketball should be like, and it was a great main event and way to close out a really great day at the Eric Ottens Shootout.”