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College Basketball: Moraine Valley settling into a groove

Updated: December 26, 2013 6:20PM

First-year Moraine Valley men’s basketball coach David Howard is seeing his team start to come together.

The Cyclones won consecutive games for the first time all season when they topped Wright College 63-57 on Dec. 17, then held off Joliet Junior College 72-71 two days later.

“These guys are really starting to buy in,” Howard said. “They’re not making any more excuses. They come to work every day. That wasn’t happening the first few weeks.

“Now these guys really believe in themselves and they’re working. I knew what they were capable of.”

Moraine, the National Junior College Athletic Association Division II runner-up last season, had its winning streak snapped Saturday with an 82-73 overtime loss to Danville Area Community College, a defeat that dropped the Cyclones to 4-9.

Even that loss was a sign of progress, however, as Moraine was trounced by Danville 90-56 just two weeks earlier on Dec. 7.

Howard said the team has taken a more aggressive approach on the offensive end in recent games.

“The scouting report on us is we’re just going to jack up three-pointers,” he said. “A month ago, that would have been 100 percent correct. We’ve definitely made some adjustments. We’re looking to be aggressive and not settle. (Against Joliet), we only made one three.”

Thornwood product Johnte Shannon (17.5 points per game) and Lockport alum Kyle Ward (15.2) have led the Cyclones.

“I think we’re going to go on a roll and go into conference on a winning streak,” Shannon said. “We’re just buying in and we have to keep working hard.”

Holiday breaks

Lewis’ men’s and women’s basketball teams have played a light schedule in December, the result of final testing and winter break, before the start of Great Lakes Valley Conference action in January.

The Lewis women improved to 6-2 with a Dec. 19 win over Lincoln Memorial, the team’s third and final game of the month. The Flyers don’t play again until Jan. 3, when they host Truman State (Mo.).

“Obviously, we have finals week in there and holiday break,” Lewis women’s coach Lisa Carlsen said. “It’s also a good time to get on the practice floor to work on some things heading into the conference season.

“It’s tough this time of the year to keep them focused because they really do need to shift their focus to academics. But this is a team that loves to play basketball. When we practice, they get after it.”

The Lewis men improved to 7-0 with Saturday’s win over Malone in Canton, Ohio. It was the team’s only game during a 24-day span. The Flyers’ next game is Tuesday against Trinity Christian in Romeoville.

Contributing: Dennis Nelson

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