BELOIT - The continued improvement of the Beloit Memorial basketball team took a sudden detour with seven minutes left Friday night's game against Verona.
The Purple Knights were leading 38-34 after a basket by Terrell Ringer. By the time the Knights scored again, just 58 remained, and the Wildcats had put the game away with a 47-40 lead after Ringer hit a pair of free throws.
The loss dropped the Knights to 1-7 in Big Eight Conference play, tied for last place with Janesville Parker.
Verona was far from a powerhouse, as they entered Friday night's fray at Barkin Arena with a 1-6 record in conference play. Truly, this was one that got away as the Knights struggled mightily with offensive execution down the stretch. Turnovers, both forced and unforced, combined with missed shots, both easy and difficult, made for an impossible recipe for victory.
"This is a game we absolutely had to have and should have won," Beloit Memorial head coach Dondre Bell said. "But we just didn't take care of the basketball. Down five with four minutes left, we don't need hero ball at that point. There's plenty of time left to work for a good shot. We've got so many bad habits and we are working to correct them every day. It's like picking your poison right now: What problem do we want to address on a given night? We are learning how to play help defense better, and we've gotten better, but we still have a lot of work to do."
The Knights Wildcats came out shooting the ball extremely well, hitting five three-pointers in the game's opening minutes to assume a 15-8 lead. The Knights improved their perimeter defense, rode a hot streak from Ringer and trailed by just a point at 25-24 at the break.
"We shared the basketball really well and we were physical when things were going well," Bell said. "We got a little tired and I was substituting a lot because of that. We just have to continue to teach these guys to play basketball. It's all the little details that aren't allowing us to finish games the way we need to."
Amariah Cook said the team needed to continue to work hard to reach their goals.
"We had a lot of turnovers and took a lot of bad shots," Cook said. "And we got lost at times on defense and give them great looks. It's definitely a frustrating loss because it's one we feel like we should have won."
The Knights won't have long to dwell on this defeat, as they renew a Stateline rivalry with Hononegah Saturday at 7 pm. in Rockton.