When a team plays a challenging 30-plus game schedule in the regular season, it is bound to have an off game or two.
A day after beating Chatham-Glenwood in Springfield, Highland came out flat against a talented and defensively tough Carbondale club and paid for it.
The Bulldogs struggled to find a rhythm on offense and were a step slow on defense as Carbondale handed Highland a 45-36 loss in the Scott Credit Union Coaches vs. Cancer Shootout on Saturday, Dec. 1 at Edwardsville High School.
“Offensively, I thought we just weren’t very good today,” Highland coach Brain Perkes said. “Defensively, you hold them to 45 points but you’re just not going to beat high school teams, scoring 36 points. We just didn’t shoot the ball well.”
Highland, which lost its first game of the season, started out decently as Sam LaPorta finished the Bulldogs’ first two trips down the floor with buckets to give them a quick 4-0 lead.
Carbondale (5-1) answered with an 8-point run keyed by a pair of Tavaris Macklin baskets to go ahead 8-4.
The Bulldogs (5-1) pulled ahead 13-9 with 3:53 left in the second quarter on a pair of Brady Feldmann and Steven Torre free-throws.
Just before the half, the Terriers’ Jakeba Burleigh knocked down a shot to give them a 20-17 lead at the intermission.
“We had looks, looks that normally our perimeter shooters make but they didn’t make then,” Perkes said. “When you’re not sharp offensively, you don’t look good and we didn’t look good today.”
A tough, physical zone defense made it hard for Highland to get many easy baskets in the paint as LaPorta, Torre, and the Bulldogs big guys did not have many easy shots.
“They (Carbondale) did a good job and they really packed it in and we got it inside a couple of times and we didn’t convert,” Perkes said. “Then we tried to open it up and we weren’t making outside shots so were kind of at a loss offensively.”
In the second half, Highland stayed as close as three points but in the final four minutes, the Bulldogs shooting went cold as Burleigh keyed a 9-6 Carbondale run with a bucket and a pair of free-throws to pull away in the final moments.
Highland shot a dismal 29.7 percent from the field and just 21 percent from behind the three-point arc.
Perkes reminded his team after the game that it’s a long season and they will have rough games from time to time.
“It’s one game of 30 and we’ve got to move on, we’re not perfect and when you have a four-month season you have 30-some games, you’re going to have some clunkers,” Perkes said.
Thomas Anderson led Carbondale with 8 points.
LaPorta paced the Bulldogs with 14 points on 5 of 12 shooting from the floor. Jake Kruse had 7 points.
LaPorta and Torre pulled down seven rebounds each.