CLINTON, Wis. - Scott Gestrich looks into a future that includes the Clinton boys basketball program being once again competitive with Beloit Turner.
He also knows that it's going to take a lot of hard work to get there.
The Trojans rolled over the Cougars for the eighth straight time Friday night, defeating a depleted Cougars roster 73-26.
The outcome was all too familiar for the Cougars, who have but one win this season.
Clinton entered the season with two proven players: Point guard Riley Anastasi and forward Tyler Stauss. Anastasi has been fighting the good fight all season without much help around him. Stauss , part of last year's state-champion 4x400 relay team in the track season, injured his back in November and played in just a few games before calling it quits.
Thus, the hand that Gestrich has been dealt in his first year as a varsity head coach is replete with a group of not-ready-for-prime-time-players.
"Our goal is to find a way to allow Riley to be himself, but still allow him to get other people open and make plays that way," Gestrich said. "We need to start taking the ball to the hole a little bit. We got them in a little bit of foul trouble in the first half, but then we didn't go after them. We need to find more consistency on offense, and we need to get a few more rebounds."
Anastasi at one point deep in the second half had 18 of Clinton's 20 points, hardly a recipe for success no matter how you slice it.
"Turner gets after it," Gestrich said. "They cut down the gaps on defense. Our guys kept looking for those gaps, but they just weren't there. They are a good defensive team. Everyone knows coming into a game against us that they have to shut Riley down. They are sending two or three guys at him, and he's still scoring. The trouble with that is that sometimes we start to watch him, and stop moving. We got some decent looks tonight, but we didn't finish."
Anastasi, also an All-Area football player, said this year has been a challenge in many ways for him.
"I've never really been in this position before," Anastasi said. "It's been a big learning curve for me. I've never faced this much adversity, but at the same time I've never learned so much during a season before. I've learned that it's OK, you don't have to win every single game. If you play your heart out every time, there's nothing else you can do. The guys are trying and giving everything they have, so I can't be mad at that."
Turner cruised thanks to a solid team effort. Steve Dillard continued his string of hot shooting with 24 points, including six 3-pointers. Ty`Shone Lomax added 12 along with his customary stellar defense.
It was the fourth win in the last five conference games for the Trojans, who will host Whitewater Monday night.
"On a night like this, we just try to have discipline in everything we do," Dillard said. "It's easy to get distracted when you are playing a team you know you should beat. It's all about staying disciplined on the defensive end and not turning it over and taking bad shots on offense. If you aren't going to do those things in this game, you're not going to do them against the top teams, either."