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STRASBURG — The saying "Patience is a virtue" rang true Friday in a National Trail Conference boys basketball game. WSS was patient on offense and as a result sank 20-of-43 (.465) percent from the field in helping them to a 58-40 win over St. Elmo/Brownstown.

The Hatchets have won seven of its last eight games.

WSS led 34-28 when they scored seven of the next nine points in a span of 2:08 to lead 41-30 with 1:18 left in the third quarter with Clay Tabbert scoring the last basket. The Eagles didn't get closer than eight after that.

"It was a good win," said WSS coach Bob Lockart. "It was a good solid performance. I thought we had different people show up at different times in each quarter. We got a lot of second-chance opportunities (outrebounded St. Elmo/Brownstown 33-24).

"The end I was probably most pleased with was the defensive end. We really controlled what they wanted to do at times and really got to the boards. Those two things can keep you in most ball games. I was very pleased tonight. We made some gains. It was a good way to start the new year."

The Hatchets, who played mainly a man-to-man defense forced the Eagles into 14 turnovers.

The pivotal run late in the third began with a 3-pointer by Beau Bennett, and after a basket by SE/B's Nate Philpot the Hatchets Adam Burton's putback made it 39-30. WSS outscored the Eagles, who played both a man-to-man and a 2-3 zone, 13-4 in the final 5:56 of the game to pull away.

St. Elmo/Brownstown had not played since Dec. 22.

"We caught them at the right time," said Lockart. "Not taking anything away from our play, but they had not played since before Christmas and we played at Christmas. They had not played for almost two weeks. You know as we get going he (SE/B coach Greg Feezel) will have that group back. We just try and keep preaching to our kids, 'Let's don't worry about who we are playing — just execute and do what we do against what the opponent is trying to do.'"

WSS led by 8 when after a scramble for the ball Jackson Miller came up with it and drained a 3-pointer for an 11-point lead midway through the fourth.

Miller and Tabbert had 16 points each. Tabbert's 16 was a season-high and he nearly finished with a double-double with nine rebounds. Adam Burton was also in double digits with 10 points, including six in the third quarter.

During the last eight games, Lockart said, "Our big thing is we want to control tempo. We are not that type of team that can have a ton of possessions and go up and down the court. The kids have gotten better at that and that goes with your half-court offensive execution. The other thing is when you can do that on the offensive end it helps your defense."

WSS won despite going 13-of-26 from the free-throw line.

Lockart was pleased with Tabbert's play.

"I thought he really gave us a lift and did a lot of good things," said Lockart.

In the first half, the Hatchets only trailed once and that was the first basket of the game on a putback by Andy Goldsborough. WSS's Miller, the Tri-County Holiday Tournament MVP, hit a three-pointer and Bennett followed with a basket for a 5-2 lead. The Hatchets took the largest lead of the half on a basket by 6-3 senior Tabbert for a 12-6 advantage with 2;45 left in the opening period.

The Eagles stayed close in the first thanks to 9-of-10 shooting from the free throw line. St. Elmo/Brownstown scored seven of the next eight points tying the game at 13 early in the second quarter.

WSS led 25-21 at the half.

"I am tickled to death to see guys in the locker room get a little bit of that fire and that taste of being competitive and that is what it is all about," said Lockart.

Darrell Shumard was honored prior to the game as he has been the scoreboard operator for 31 years and is to be inducted into the Illinois Basketball Coaches Associaton Hall of Fame in April. Shumard was presented with a game ball.

SE/B fell to 7-7 overall and 1-4 in the conference.

WSS, 11-6 overall and 1-1 in the NTC, is to play host to South Central Tuesday in an NTC game at Stewardson-Strasburg.

Contact Mike Monahan at (217) 238-6854.

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Sports writer

Mike Monahan covers area sports for the JG-TC.

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