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A bounce here or there or, more directly, a few additional baskets and Oak Forest may boast a record closer to 11-6 than its mark of 6-11.
The Bengals have lost three games in overtime and two others by less than five points.
It’s been that type of season for Oak Forest.
“We’ve lost a lot of close games,” Bengals coach Matt Manzke said. “We’ve had trouble having multiple guys score (double digits) on the same night. That’s been our downfall.”
The one constant in the scoring column has been Tom Shute, a junior averaging about 14 points per game. No other Bengal is averaging double digits.
“Tom has been great” Manzke said.
Other Bengals, such as seniors Tom Zale and Blake Waller, junior Jason Roland and sophomores David Gray and Kyle Flanagan, have had shining moments.
Just not enough of them to reverse Oak Forest’s fortunes.
“They’ve all had good games at times and other games where they haven’t been able to score,” Manzke said. “It’s not from a lack of effort. This is a great group of kids. We just don’t know what we’re going to get on any given night other than from Tom.”
What Manzke has noticed is when the shots aren’t falling, his players become hesitant to pull the trigger.
It boils down to confidence.
“We want the guys to be aggressive,” Manzke said. “When their shots aren’t falling, they start passing up good shots. We get on our heels and get tentative.”
And when shots aren’t falling, opponents sag on defense and take away the Bengals’ ability to get the ball in the post.
On the contrary, if shots were falling, opponents would be forced to stop sagging on defense, which would open things up inside.
The good news for the Bengals is there still is time to right the ship and make a run to get to .500.
“We had a talk with the seniors,” Manzke said. “We told them that we still have time to put it all together. We’re a young team. The guys are learning and getting better. If we start shooting the ball better, guys will get more confidence and good things will happen.”