Beloit Turner and Whitewater were headed in very different directions.
The Whippets were one of the Rock Valley Conference’s hottest teams, and they had outscored opponents by an average of 18.6 points during a five-game winning streak. They hadn’t lost in over a month.
The Trojans were limping after winning two of their last six games. They’d been close during that stretch, though, losing their two most recent games by a combined three points.
Turner might’ve finally turned the corner Tuesday.
Dai’Vontrelle Strong scored 16 points, Jordan Majeed added 13 and the Trojans put their pressure defense to work in a 60-47 boys basketball win over Whitewater at Turner High.
Turner (10-5, 8-3 RVC) moved three games ahead of Whitewater (7-7, 5-6 RVC) for fourth place in the Rock Valley.
“My hope is that this is the turning point,” Turner coach Ken Watkins said. “Overall, I thought we played pretty good, especially with our pressure. The energy level was pretty good and very consistent the whole game.”
The Trojans’ 1-3-1 zone defense slowed down a Whippets team that had been averaging 65.2 points since its last loss. Whitewater shot 38 percent from the field.
The team’s leading scorer, Daniel Fuller, was limited to nine points on 2 of 9 shooting.
“They came out with aggression and finished shots,” Whitewater coach Dan Gnatzig said. “We’ve gotta (put) this one behind and restart on Friday (against McFarland).”
The defensive highlight came with 9:30 left in the second half and Turner holding a 33-28 lead. Playing at the point of the Trojans’ zone, Strong used all of his 6-foot-6 frame to tip a Whitewater pass out of the air and then rattled in a right-handed dunk to get the crowd going. The talented sophomore finished 6 of 12 from the field.
Turner led by as many as 17 points in the second half.
“Our guys were moving on airtime,” Watkins said. “When you’re pressuring and you’re more athletic than teams and you’re quicker than they are, it really feels like you’re in a cave. You’re able to move on airtime instead of the catch.”
Watkins said his team lost its focus at times in recent losses to McFarland and Edgerton. Early Tuesday, it seemed that might be the case again as Whitewater jumped in front 7-3.
But Turner responded with a 16-2 run over a seven-minute span to take command.
“We got some steals and rushed them a couple times to go on that run,” Watkins said. “It’s a matter of getting a couple of those runs, because it’s so hard to sustain that full-court energy all game long.”
Ben Kloskey led Whitewater with 13 points.
The Trojans shot 44.4 percent from the field in their best offensive performance since Jan. 9.
The Whippets will face another tough challenge Friday when they host McFarland (9-2 RVC). Turner travels to Evansville that same night.
TURNER 60, WHITEWATER 47
Whitewater (47)—Parrish 2-4-8, Kloskey 6-1-13, Navejas 2-0-5, Fuller 2-4-9, Kohl 1-3-5, Pease 1-2-3, Dedrick 1-2-4. Totals: 15-15-47.
Turner (60)—Reyes 1-0-2, Majeed 3-7-13, Wash 2-5-11, Strong 6-4-16, Ferone 4-1-9, Tinder 1-0-2, Dillard 1-0-2, Malkow 2-1-5. Totals: 20-18-60.
Whitewater 17 30—47
Beloit Turner 22 38—60
3-point goals—Turner 2 (Wash 2), Whitewater 2 (Navejas, Fuller). Free throws missed—Turner 11, Whitewater 7. Total fouls—Whitewater 25, Turner 20. Fouled out—Fuller, Dedrick.