E.A. Sports Today

Protection issues

Live-ball turnovers play huge role as White Plains drops a close one in consolation final in Destin

By East Alabama Sports Today

FREEPORT, Fla. – If there was one thing coach Chris Randall was pretty confident he didn’t have to worry about with his White Plains basketball team this year it was its ability to handle pressure.

Well, at times through this first half of the season, it’s been an issue.

Live ball turnovers were a big factor Thursday as the Wildcats lost to St. Benedicts (TN) 50-46 in the consolation bracket final of the Hilton Sandestin Beach Basketball Blowout.

“It came down to one thing – live ball turnovers,” Randall said. “We weren’t strong with the ball (and) they turned deflections into buckets. We knew going in that was a key. We did a good job defending in the half-court set, but they beat us 50-46 and 18 or 20 of those (points) were off live-ball turnovers.

“The first half I bet we had more turnovers than shot attempts. If I’m lying I’m dying.”

Randall said the Wildcats work on overmatched situations – 5-on-7, 2-on-3, 1-on-2 – every day in practice, but in games they don’t value the possession of the ball.

“We’re just too careless,” he said. “You can live with traveling and double dribbles; you can’t with them taking it and laying it up. They took our lunch money from us. They took the ball from us. We’re soft.

“You can live with skinny. You can live with fat. You can live with dumb. You can’t live with soft. You can’t win with soft. When you’re soft with the ball as we were, you ain’t gonna win. We didn’t deserve to win. They had three players as good as any we’ve played and they just took the ball from us.”

The Wildcats fought back to tie the game with about four minutes to go and at that point Randall thought his team was on its way to a third straight victory. Then it had back-to-back live-ball turnovers that turned into layups and they were never that close again.

Eli Hightower made the all-tournament team. He opened the tournament with a 30-point game and went into Thursday with 13 3-pointers thanks to recently adjusting his shot to a higher trajectory.

“This week was lots of fun and it also has been a building block for us as a team,” Hightower said. “We found some stuff we all need to work on and know what we need to improve on when we get home.”

And one of those things is the live-ball turnovers.

“They really hurt us today,” Hightower continued. “It’s something that has hurt us in a few games this year, but it can always be fixed. It’s just one more thing we’ve gotta work on when we get back home.”

This story will be updated.

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