Cavaliers head into final week on a four-game skid

Cavaliers head into final week on a four-game

By JACKSON WILSON

Enquirer Democrat Sports Reporter

A puzzle is never complete without all of the pieces.

Despite having to play against several tough opponents, the Carlinville basketball Cavaliers managed to weather several storms and stay competitive. Yet, the well remained dry when it came to getting some good luck down the stretch – especially over the weekend. The Cavies head into the final week of the regular season on another losing streak.

After a hard-fought game at Hillsboro, Carlinville looked to use gained confidence as a catalyst for pulling an upset in Vandalia. The Vandals had other plans and dominated 73-41 behind a 28-point masterpiece from Blake Morrison.

Heading into Friday’s contest against Litchfield, the Cavaliers weren’t given an ounce of respect even though they were playing the game at home. Although the Purple Panthers won easily at the Big House 55-35 on Dec. 27, the rematch took a dramatic turn and ended up being an unexpected instant classic that had the entire crowd on the edge of its seat. After a back-and-forth affair that lasted for the entire duration of the game, Carlinville had a 38-35 lead and was less than a minute from its first conference win of the season. With his back against the wall, a struggling Sam Painter hoisted up a deep prayer from beyond the left arc and tied the game up for Litchfield. The Cavies had a chance to seal the deal in the closing seconds, but spoiled the opportunity with a charging foul. The Purple Panthers took advantage and swung the momentum back in their favor, winning 53-48 in overtime. Jarret Easterday scored 28 points while knocking down five triples in the heartbreaking loss.

On Saturday, it was Michael Byots’ turn to be a scoring machine. The junior forward racked up 23 points, including 15 in the fourth quarter during a 52-43 road loss to Waverly-South County in Franklin. Easterday stayed hot and added 14 for the Cavies, but Jackson Smith (24) and Brenton Duffie (17) formed a dynamic duo of their own – protecting their home court with a 41-point counterattack for the Vipers.

“Those two have been putting some points up,” Carlinville head coach Alan Cooper complimented about Easterday and Byots. “We just need to get scoring elsewhere to help us out more on the offensive end.”

Carlinville has lost four consecutive contests and is 7-21 overall with one week left in the regular season. The Cavies remain without a conference win at 0-7 in the South Central. On Feb. 18, Carlinville will take on Athens in the first round of the Illinois High School Association Class 2A Regional in Sherman. Game time is 7 p.m. at Williamsville High School.

Senior Jarret Easterday goes up for a three-pointer. Enquirer-Democrat photo by Cory Walton.