They were outsized to a man, but the Highland Bulldogs moved the ball, broke the press, and chased Illinois No. 5 ranked 2A basketball team to within a point at halftime.
But the Teutopolis Wooden Shoes found shooting room inside and out and with a third quarter blitz, defeated the Bulldogs, 76-49.
"In the third quarter, we put five points on the board and gave up, I don't know, 20 or something like that," said Highland head coach Matt Elledge. "It was a one-point game at half time and our kids didn't show up in the second half to play."
To be precise, it was 26 points the Wooden Shoes posted in the third quarter, including the half's first 11 points. The Bulldogs, meanwhile, had just one field goal in the period.
It was the third loss in four games for Highland, which fell to 9-8. Teutopolis, which finished third at last season's Class 2A state tournament, improved to 15-2.
It was a one-point game at half time and our kids didn't show up in the second half to play.
Matt Elledge, Highland head basketball coach
The game actually turned before the half.
Highland senior Luke Thies scored five points in a 13-3 run that put the Bulldogs ahead 23-15 with 3:41 left in in the second quarter. But T-town's Devin Smith, Mitch Hardiek, Brant Bueker and Brett Mette each drained three-point baskets to put the Wooden Shoes on top, 32-31.
The Bulldogs, which had controlled the boards under their goal suddenly couldn't afford pack in the paint. Teutopolis found scoring opportunities it didn't find earlier.
We got several kids who can shoot it. Once we got a few of them to fall it opens things up.
Jason Hanson, Teutopolis head basketball coach
"We got several kids who can shoot it. Once we got a few of them to fall it opens things up," said Teutopolis coach Jason Hanson. "All of the sudden, they couldn't pack it in and it created opportunities for us to score."
Mette suddenly was able to post up for nine straight points during a 19-2 run that opened the half. Bueker, meanwhile, hit three more from beyond the arc. The one-point half-time was stretch to 22 by the end of the third quarter.
Frustration got the best of Highland when Austin Elledge was called on a technical foul and was forced to the bench.
"Early in the third quarter, when Austin got his third foul, then the technical ... our demeanor, our body language ... you could just tell," Matt Elledge said. "We've got some things we have to work on and get some things corrected really quick."
Hardiek, a 6-foot-3 junior, led all scorers with 25. Mette finished with 16 and Bueker added 14 for Teutopolis.
For Highland, Brode Portell led with 10 points. Justin Twyford, Elledge, and Thies scord 8 each.