Some wondered if Beloit Turner’s boys basketball team was a year away from returning to contender status.
The Trojans showed Tuesday they aren’t interested in waiting.
Sereno Ferone scored 20 of his 25 points in the second half, and the Trojans held off East Troy 82-66 to forge a tie atop the Rock Valley Conference standings.
Turner is 9-3 overall and 7-1 in league play. East Troy is 7-4 and 7-1, with McFarland also sitting at 7-1.
“This win is a big win, obviously, because that’s the top team in the conference right now. But I’d say it’s more of wake-up call to the other teams in the conference,” Ferone said. “Yeah, we lost some players from last year and the leading scorer that should have been playing this year. But we’re still that top team that can compete with everyone.
“We’re not waiting until next year.”
Turner never trailed in the game, and the final tie came at 15-15.
Sophomore Dai’Vontrelle Strong scored 12 of his 16 points in a first half, and Turner led 29-21 at the break.
East Troy locked down on Turner leading scorer Steve Dillard all night, and it closed the entry to the post to Strong in the second half. Turner knew it would need other players to step up.
“With this team, we can rely on anybody to be the guy in any given game,” Ferone said.
Ferone and sophomore Jordan Majeed answered the call, in particular.
East Troy defenders could not keep Majeed in front of them. He had 11 of his 17 points after halftime, and when he wasn’t scoring off the drive, he was finding an open teammate.
“Coach just kept telling me to keep going,” said Majeed, who comes off the bench. “It was just there for me, and it just kind of happened.”
And Ferone seemingly came up with a clutch bucket every time his team needed one.
East Troy cut its deficit to two points, 44-42, nearing the midway point of the second half. Ferone buried a 3-pointer to quickly make it a two-possession game.
It was 49-46 with about seven minutes left, and Ferone drilled another 3, finishing with three triples on the night. He was 6 of 9 from the field and 5 of 6 from the free-throw line in the second half.
His third 3, with 5:12 left, gave Turner a double-digit lead, and East Troy never got closer than eight from there.
“All three of those 3s in the second half were really timely,” Turner coach Ken Watkins said. “He was clutch all night long.
“Those two guys (Ferone and Majeed) were tough and really stepped up in a big game and a pretty good environment.”
A.J. Vukovich had 29 points to lead all scorers for East Troy, while Michael Polakoski added 20.
Dillard finished with 11 for Turner.
“I don’t know if we truly believed we could beat Lake Mills and Lakeside in the tournament we played over break, so this is a huge win in terms of confidence,” Watkins said. “I don’t think there is any better motivator than feeling like you belong.”
Turner certainly showed Tuesday that they’ll be a team to reckon with in the second half of the Rock Valley season.
First, however, they’ll be tested by McFarland on Friday to close out the first half of league play.
TURNER 82, EAST TROY 66
East Troy (66)—Brehm 1-0-2, Polakoski 7-4-20, Baldwin 0-1-1, Vukovich 11-5-29, Mitchell 0-1-1, Bourdo 5-3-13. Totals: 24-14-66.
Turner (82)—Reyes 1-1-3, Majeed 7-3-17, Wash Jr. 0-6-6, Strong 6-4-16, Ferone 8-6-25, Dillard 2-5-11, Tinder 2-0-4. Totals: 26-25-81.
East Troy 21 45—66
Beloit Turner 29 53—82
3-point goals—ET 4 (Polakoski 2, Vukovich 2), BT 5 (Ferone 3, Dillard 2). Free throws missed—ET 18, BT 9. Total fouls—ET 27, BT 27. Fouled out—Brehm, Rosin (ET), Mitchell, Reyes, Tinder.