The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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December 27, 2012

Lack of practice time hurts Erie boys

ERIE, Ill. — Erie coach Ryan Winckler said he thought lack of recent practice time was really affecting his team after the Cardinals lost to Mercer County 51-41 on Wednesday night to drop to 0-2 in the Warkins Cardinal Classic.

“I didn’t think that we played as hard as we need to again,” Winckler said. “We had a little bit better effort than Saturday (a loss to Stockton). But we’re just making poor decisions that we shouldn’t be making our 15th game in. Our second or third game we were making these decisions, but then we started to dial it in and do what we needed to do. The last two games, we’ve kind of reverted back to the beginning of the season.”

He was quick to point out that most teams hadn’t been able to practice much recently but thought his team really needed to put that work in.

“We need to fix some of the glaring things we’re doing wrong right now,” Winckler said. “Otherwise, we’re going to continue to really struggle.”

Erie never led and trailed Mercer County by as many as eight points in the first half and early in the third quarter. A fast-break layup by Brandon Butcher gave the Golden Eagles a 30-22 lead a minute into the second half. But then the Cardinals made a move.

Rhett Stover, Jacob Johnston and Connor Saad converted consecutive layups in transition, and then Saad drilled a 3-pointer to tie the score at 31 with 4:27 to play in the third quarter.

Mercer County responded with a 10-2 run, fueled by four of Tanner Matlick’s game-high 21 points.

“We were making good decisions, but then we started to make bad decisions,” Winckler said. “I wish there was a magic thing I could point to. But it really is just decision-making on the basketball court. ... We have to do a better job of decision-making and understanding the situations of the game.”

Winckler said the Cardinals shot too many jump shots for the second time in as many games at the Classic. Erie has attempted just 11 free throws in its first two games.

Johnston led the Cardinals with 15 points and eight rebounds.

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