LANSING | When you look at the score of the T.F. South boys basketball team's win over Shepard on Friday night, it will look like the Rebels had everything under control.
T.F. South won 72-56, but there is more than what was on the scoreboard.
The Rebels did a nice job of coming back after trailing 44-34 in the third quarter. They did it by finally finding the basket, forcing turnovers and not losing their composure.
South has not played well its last four games and certainly nothing like when it opened the season with four straight wins. Take those away and the Rebels are 4-5. If anything, maybe this was the wake-up game for a team which has a lot of talent, but is not that good where the Rebels can overlook anyone. Paul Pierce said they were not overlooking Shepard, but just didn't play well in the beginning. The Rebels cannot fall behind by double digits and expect to come back. They know that.
Sometimes a game like Friday is good if you can learn from it. The good thing is South won the game. It also showed it can come back when the chips are down and Kenny Doss had just a great fourth quarter. Every game someone different will have to step up and that means maybe in the first quarter when it is a lot easier to take control early, rather than use a lot of energy trying to play catch-up.
"Coach (John O'Rourke) tells us the first 3 1/2 minutes of a game is important we have not done that," Pierce said. "He has stressed that and at halftime in the locker room, he got on us about not finishing, letting teams hang around."
South plays North Lawndale Charter on Sunday at the Bob Hambric Shootout at T.F. North and if it comes out lackadaisical, the result will be much different.
"If that happens, we will be down by 40 (points) after the first quarter," O'Rourke said. "We cannot allow teams to hang with us and we cannot have lapses out there. I know it will catch up and it has a few times this season."
The second-half of the season does not have an easy game. Oak Lawn and Evergreen Park are like Shepard -- trap games.
At this morning's practice, I am sure O'Rourke and assistant coach Rich Tarbunas will not spend time patting the team on the back for winning a game it almost lost. They will go over the mistakes that hurt the team early and get them ready to play a power like North Lawndale.
That, too, can be a crucial game, especially if the Rebels can sustain the intensity they had in the fourth quarter on Friday night and have it the whole game.
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