Cavaliers break the ice with victory over Indians

Cavaliers break the ice with victory over Indians

By Jackson Wilson

The streak is over!

After an opening 20-day stretch that consisted of seven consecutive losses, the Carlinville basketball Cavaliers have finally gotten themselves into the win column for the first time in 2018-19. A consistent performance on both ends of the court was the perfect Christmas gift for Carlinville head coach Alan Cooper. Jarrett Easterday (17) and Briley Roper (13) combined for 30 points. Michael Byots put up 11 points with three assists and Aiden Naugle added seven big tallies in the second half to help Carlinville outlast Pawnee 53-44 on Tuesday night at the Big House.

“Our energy level was definitely better for 99 percent of the game. We just had a few let-downs late. We did some great things. We created problems for them on the defensive end and we started to knock down some shots on offense,” praised Cooper.

Both teams came out of the gate with a defensive mentality, forcing a combination of 14 missed field goals and four turnovers over a span of four and a half minutes. Pawnee struck first on a basket by Connor  Hennemann with 3:35 remaining in the first quarter. Austin Hemken came off the bench and scored the first point for the Cavies on a free throw. Byots converted a tough floater at the 1:17 mark – ending Carlinville’s field goal drought. This ignited a boost of momentum. Roper stole the ball and took it all the way to the cup for the 5-3 lead. The Indians turned the ball over again, and Easterday fed Will Walton for a two-handed dunk on another easy fast break.

The Cavalier offense continued its stride in the second quarter. Walton swatted a shot down and Byots nailed a three-pointer on the other end, extending Carlinville’s run to nine unanswered points. Despite being down, Pawnee wasn’t out. Byots missed his next two shots, which opened the door for the young Indians. A layup and three-pointer cut the Cavie lead to 10-8, but Roper stopped the bleeding with a tip-in. Easterday followed with a layup and three pointer of his own, putting Carlinville back in control, 17-10. Easterday’s 10-point quarter played a major part in the Cavaliers’ 25-17 halftime advantage.

The next eight-minute stretch belonged to Roper. The 6’2” junior did a little of everything – posting five points plus a steal and a block during that time. Roper also showed off his inner point guard skills by assisting Easterday on a perfectly executed 10-foot mid-range dagger at the buzzer. Carlinville outscored Pawnee 15-6 in the third, which was enough to put the game on ice.

The Indians closed the 40-26 gap to 51-44 in the final 30 seconds, but there wasn’t enough time for a miracle. Naugle canned two free throws, eliminating all hope for the visiting Tribe. Naugle also connected on a key long range bomb three minutes prior to provide Carlinville with some added support and breathing room down the stretch.

The Cavaliers are scheduled to play in three tournaments over the next three weeks. In addition, they will make a quick conference pit stop in Staunton on Jan. 4.

“We have a lot of games coming up,” Cooper stated. “We need to get a little rest, prepare for Mt. Olive that we have coming up in the holiday tournament and go from there.”

Senior Jarret Easterday goes up for two points against Pawnee in the Cavaliers’ first win of the season on Dec. 18. Photo by Cory Walton.