ARGOS — To hear John Glenn head coach Travis Hannah tell it, it wasn’t so much his players who needed a win as the Falcons skipper himself.
Glenn rode senior shooter Nathan Stegemiller’s hot hand to a 24-7 third quarter to take a 52-32 lead into the fourth quarter, then held off scrappy Argos to break into the win column in a long-awaited victory at Phil Weybright Gymnasium Thursday night, 61-49.
“It’s important to get the win. Our morale, I’ll give these kids a lot of credit because you wouldn’t know coming into our practices that we hadn’t won a game yet. They’re still working hard, they’re still doing the things that we ask them to do, and tonight I told them, my wife and kids thank them for us being able to have a little more pleasant Christmas break around the house,” said Hannah with a wry smile. “That was maybe the most important thing.”
A 5-0 mini-run at the end of the second period kept the Dragons within striking distance at 28-25 at the half, but the Falcons put the game out of reach quickly in the third quarter.
Stegemiller knocked down his first four 3s as Glenn worked inside-out off dribble penetration, and the visitors nearly doubled their halftime score with 24 points in the period. Stegemiller finished the night with six triples on 6-of-10 shooting from beyond the arch and a season-high 18 points to lead the Falcons to their first win of the season after a tough front end stretch.
“Nathan came out at the beginning of the year and thought that he had to distribute the ball to the other guys, and we’ve really been trying to get on him to get more aggressive with his shot and looking for his shot,” said Hannah. “Tonight it got to the point where he was knocking down shots, but what you saw happen was it opened up driving the lanes for us with (Austen) Hayes and Jake Strong and those guys. We’ve got some pretty good ability on the floor when we’re playing the way we need to be playing.”
While the Dragons struggled to find a defensive answer for Stegemiller, they stagnated on the other end of the floor, scuffling to a 3-for-10 mark from the field in the third quarter, leaving the game’s outcome all but a foregone conclusion with Glenn leading by a 20-point cushion headed into the final frame.
“Obviously they came out and took it to us with penetration and kick. We knew that was going to happen. We talked about it this week, but maybe the kids didn’t recognize it in the game,” said Argos head coach Doug Snyder. “But they executed well, and they knocked down shots. Then the problem is we go down on the other end and we go cold. We get to standing a little bit and settle for some shots that we shouldn’t and because of that we miss four, five, six in a row, and because of that the game opened up.”
While Stegemiller led the Falcons in scoring, he was only one of four Glenn players in double figures at Argos.
Junior guard Tyler Prentkowski scored another season-high 14 points in a strong all-around game that also included three steals, three assists and six rebounds, while sophomore Jake Strong finished with 12 points and junior guard Hayes put up 11 for Glenn, which converted at a 23-for-48 clip from the floor versus the Dragons.
“I think the LaVille game and the game before we had four guys in double digits. We’ve got to be able to get production from five, six and seven,” said Hannah. “The guys coming off the bench did a good job tonight defensively I thought. But we’re still a work in progress. Our kids are still trying to understand roles and understand where we need them to do on the floor and play off each other.”
Junior guard Dominic Cataldo put up 14 points with five assists and three steals, but the Dragons saw their best production in the front court. Six-three junior forward Casey Johnson finished with 18 points earned at an impressive 6-for-7 conversion rate — taking just one shot during the decisive third quarter — while 6-3 senior Ricky Rice made the most of his first varsity start with eight points and eight rebounds to lead Argos to a 29-25 advantage off the glass at the game.
“Casey played a great game. In fact he only missed a shot tonight,” said Snyder. “The problem was he scored early and he scored late. We’ve got to get him some shots in between. I thought Ricky Rice did a nice job. He had his first start tonight and responded well, had eight points and eight boards. I thought he worked his tail off and did a good job.”
“We wanted to get the ball inside more. I thought we had a size advantage, and when we did get the ball inside I thought we were effective,” Snyder said. “But we’ve got to stick with our game plan. We can’t just do it for awhile and then get away from it. I thought tonight we needed to be a little bit more consistent with our game plan.”
Glenn moves to 1-6 on the season with the feel-good win and will have a two-week holiday layover before resuming the season at Northern State Conference foe Triton Jan. 4.
“Here’s what people don’t understand — if you look at our first six opponents right now their record is 28-8 going into tonight. Our opponents’ records are the six best in the state, and we do that for a reason,” said Hannah. “I’m not worried about wins and losses right now, I’m worried about making these kids better so when they get to the second half of the season they can have the experience of a lifetime.
“Tonight you get a win, but I told those guys we’ve got two weeks to get ready for Triton,” he added. “They’re obviously good again, and we’ve got our hands full with Clay Yeo. We’ve got two weeks to get rested, get healthy and get ready for the January stretch.”
Argos slips to 1-6 on the year with its fourth straight loss after a home win over Winamac Nov. 30. The Dragons will play host West Central in the Winter Classic Dec. 27, while Winamac plays Knox in the tourney’s other bracket. The winners and losers of those semifinals will play in the tilt’s championship and consolation games Dec. 29.
“We’ve just got to keep working. I told them we’re not where we need to be, but I thought with the way they were working at the end, we need to just build from that,” said Snyder. “We’ll get a few days off here and hopefully come back refreshed and see what we do the second half of the season.”
• JOHN GLENN 61, ARGOS 49
Score by quarters
Glenn: 14 28 52 61
Argos: 12 25 32 49
GLENN (61): Adam Stull 0, Tyler Prentkowski 14, Alec Runyan 0, Austen Hayes 11, Isaac Keldsen 0, Drew McDonald 3, Jake Strong 12, Calvin Kretchmer 3, Nathan Stegemiller 18; Totals: 23 5-8 61.
ARGOS (49): Taylor Ogle 2, Dominic Cataldo 14, Casey Johnson 18, Derek Smith 0, Max Bailey 5, Bryan Snyder 0, Rickey Rice 8, Ben Carter 2, Alex Blum 0; Totals: 17 12-16 49.
3-pointers: Glenn 10 (Stegemiller 6, Prentkowski 1, Hayes 1, Kretchmer 1, McDonald 1), Argos 3 (Cataldo 2, Bailey 1); Rebounds: Glenn 25 (Prentkowski 6), Argos 29 (Rice 8); Turnovers: Glenn 16, Argos 13; Steals: Glenn 8 (Prentkowski 3, Strong 2), Argos 8 (Cataldo 3, Ogle 3); Assists: Glenn 12 (Kretchmer 3, Prentkowski 3, Runyan 3), Argos 12 (Cataldo 5, Ogle 5); Fouls (fouled out): Glenn 14 (none), Argos 12 (none).
Records: Glenn 1-6, Argos 1-6
JV score: Glenn 39 (Joel Hadden 19, Chase Bair 13), Argos 31 (Jordan norris 8, Matt Edmonds 8)