By Scott Taylor
Romeoville came into its own holiday tournament looking for a strong showing despite having a young team.
However, after a heartbreaking loss in the second round to Glenbard South, the Spartans lost their final two games, going 1-3 on the tournament for eighth place.
In the final game they fell to Plainfield Central 70-66, a team it had beaten twice earlier in the season.
“Once we got beat with those two desperation shots, it took a lot out of us,” Romeoville coach Marc Howard said. “We played decent ball yesterday, but the 9 am game today was a little rough on us. We had some higher goals and expectations and then we played Plainfield Central again and they had the motivation. We have to get back to basics and get ready for Oswego now.”
The Spartans led 36-31 at the half, but trailed 63-55 late in the fourth quarter before a late rally. Senior Matt Cappelletti finished the game with 24 points en route to being named to the all-tournament team.
“I thought Matt had an outstanding tournament,” Howard said. “He averaged 18 (points) and eight (rebounds). I’m happy to see how he is constantly improving.”
With a young team, Romeoville has to learn how to respond from a tough loss.
“You can’t let a tough loss get the best of you,” Howard said. “But you also have to guard somebody. We didn’t do that today. We just have to get back to basics and stress team defense and concepts.”
Despite the struggle in the tournament, Howard knows the potential is there to make a run in the second half of the season.
“When things are clicking and we’re playing the way we are capable of, we are scary good,” Howard said. “I just want them to commit to playing four quarters of basketball and maximize every opportunity we have on the court.”
Before then though, Howard was glad the Spartans had a few days to prepare before their next game.
“It will definitely help. We will get a little time off and take care of our bodies and go from there,” Howard said.
Overall, the tournament was again a success from an operations standpoint as Joliet Catholic went on to win the tournament.
“Coaches are saying great things about the tournament and they want to see more in the future,” Howard said. “We’ve got big plans to constantly improve this tournament. We will see what happens. We’re thinking about expanding to the lower levels.”
There was some turbulence on the second day of the tournament as an ice storm forced a postponement of the winners bracket, making the top eight teams finish on New Year’s Eve.
“It is safety first,” Howard said. “The last thing you want is someone getting in an accident driving to play basketball. It was the right decision.”