Trailing by 20 with seven minutes left in regulation, Bald Eagle Area boys’ basketball coach Bill Butterworth called a timeout.
As his starters filtered to their seats on the bench, Butterworth looked up to the heavens, placed his hands over his face, and shook his head.
Another lob pass, another turnover — and it was one of many.
The Eagles (0-4) were plagued by 22 turnovers in a 61-38 loss to Central (2-2) on Tuesday night.
Jordan Jones led the Eagles with 20 points, and Mark Eminhizer chipped in eight, but that was about it for the positives.
The Eagles were stagnant on offense against Central’s 2-3 zone.
“Two players were around the ball and no one else is getting in the right spots,” Butterworth said. “When you have a shooter out there with two guys all over him and nobody else is moving, it’s hard to score.”
Instead of attacking the zone with intent, the Eagles tried to pass over the Dragons’ heads, swinging the ball from one side of the court to the other.
It didn’t work out too well as Central’s Kyle Dodson and his fellow guards were active.
The Eagles were down only 13-12 at the end of the first quarter despite six turnovers, but they couldn’t overcome more mistakes in the second period. BEA turned it over eight times in the second quarter, leading to fastbreak points for Central and a 30-20 halftime deficit.
The Dragons’ lead grew from there. BEA was outscored by Central 31-18 in the second half thanks in large part to faulty handling of the ball.
“I was trying to explain to them that when you throw a pass 10 feet in the air, by time it comes down the defense is there,” Butterworth said. “I actually said at one point that if someone threw a bounce pass I’d call timeout, shake their hand and congratulate them.”
Meanwhile, Central’s offense had no problem with the Eagles’ zone. The Dragons baited BEA by drawing guards out beyond the 3-point line, forcing the Eagles’ big men off the block to defend the high-post, and passing behind the defense.
Whether it was on the fastbreak or a product of meticulously picking apart the zone, Central tallied 38 of its 61 points at the rim.
“If you have a little patience ... you can usually get it into the post,” Dragons coach Reggie Nevins said. “The guy at the foul line has to make good decisions, but it’s shoot or dish it, and we did some good things tonight.”
From BEA’s perspective, the Eagles didn’t switch out of their zone defense or press, even though Central was breaking both down.
Butterworth stuck to his guns because he believes establishing a system will help the Eagles grow for next season.
He sees each game as a learning experience, and hopes his players take something out of the rough night.
“It’s all correctable stuff,” Butterworth said. “We’re going to get this down, even if we’re 0-22. This is how we’re going to play. It’s going to benefit us next year.”
BEA has another chance to get its first win of the season at Huntingdon on Thursday.