February 2, 2013
Eagles wrap it up
Clinch league title with 39-29 victory at Cincy
Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
McGraw’s David Levitskiy (15) gets the layup and the foul by Cincinnatus’ Bryant Loomis (12) in the first quarter of Friday’s CCL showdown.
CINCINNATUS — The visiting McGraw Central boys’ basketball team wasn’t in a sharing mood Friday night, and rival Cincinnatus Central wasn’t feeling generous.
It all made for what ended up a fairly tight, low-scoring Central Counties League showdown in a packed, noisy Cincy gym, the visiting Eagles winning 39-29 to clinch the league championship over the Red Lions.
First-year coach Matt Martins’ squad is now perfect in league play with one regular-season game left, Tuesday against visiting Madison, and 16-1 overall. Second-place Cincy fell to 8-2 league and 11-3 overall with both losses to the Eagles.
The longtime rivals tied for the CCL crown last season.
“This was a big win for us,” Coach Martins said. “We wanted to win the league, and I know that they the guys were nervous but ready before the game.We can’t relax, because now we have to prepare for the second season (sectionals).”
It looked for a long time like the Eagles would have a relaxing time of it in this one. The never trailed in the game and led 11-6 after one quarter, but leading 14-8 with 4:55 in the second their man-to-man defense held the hosts scoreless over the last 4:55 of the period while scoring 10 points themselves to take a 24-8 lead into intermission.
The Red Lions cut into their deficit a little with a 9-7 third-quarter advantage, then ratcheted up their man-to-man pressure in the fourth and scored 10 of the first 11 points in the stanza to make it a 30-25 game with 4:19 left.
after the visitors had been held scoreless for a span of 3:23, McGraw junior forward Jon Morse then scored four points in a row on a field goal and two free throws to make it 34-25 with 2:08 remaining. After Cincy senior guard Bryant Loomis scored with 1:39 on the clock, junior guard Chris Sweeney scored the winners’ final five points consecutively before junior guard Shea Feehan, the Red Lions’ scoring leader, got his only two points of the night with 24 seconds left to account for the final margin. Eagles Senior guard Nick Cowen and sophomore guard Collin Pickert shared defensive duties against Feehan.
“I knew we could do it,” Cincy coach Jim Halstrom said of his team’s furious comeback. “We got close, but spent so much energy trying to get back in it that we got sloppy. We changed defense at halftime, from 2-3 zone to man-to-man, and did a good job of it. We were able to get rebounds when they missed, and they got a little sloppy too. But they did a good job defensively on Shea.”
“It’s never over against your rival,” Martins said of his team’s big halftime advantage. “Jim always has something for you. They came at us hard and really hustled.
“Coaching this team, There’s never been a point where I thought we were out of a game. These guys will fight to the end, regardless of the score. In tough situations, they find a way to do it,” he added.
So was the low-scoring nature of the contest a function of tough defenses, poor shooting, or both?
“It was a combination,” Martins said. “Cincy plays very good defense and pressures the ball. We shot well in the second quarter, but not as well as we could have in the third and fourth. The kids are very unselfish with each other, and if someone’s open they’ll get him the ball.”
“We didn’t look fluid running our offense,” said Halstrom, whose team next visits Otselic Valley on Wednesday night. “They had something to do with that, but we rushed too much in the first half. The kids were really prepared and looking forward to it. They had a good run in the second quarter, and we came back in the fourth. It was like the first game with them (a 54-45 McGraw win at Morrisville State Jan. 5 on the CCL’s Coaches vs. Cancer Day). They got up, we came back and they finished it.
“Our whole team did a great job defensively. Bryant was more active than he has been, which was good do see.”
Sweeney had a game-high 13 points for McGraw, along with four rebounds and three steals. Junior forward Jon Morse added nine points and hauled down 13 rebounds, while senior guard Nick Cowen had six points, five rebounds and three assists. Junior center Brad Hill also had four rebounds as the eagles had a 35-29 edge on the boards.
Cincy got nine points and three assists from senior guard Mickey Halstrom, with Loomis scoring eight points with three rebounds. Senior guard Nick Peri had seven rebounds, one more than senior forward Nick Lindley.
“The whole team was really nervous,” an obviously happy and relieved Sweeney said afterwards. “When they came back, we just needed to calm own and stay within ourselves, and we finally got to where were were doing that. We knew it wax coming. When we’re in transition and running is when we do well on offense; we weren’t boxing out and finding the open man or being strong to the ball, which meant second-half points for them.”
“We played tough defense shutting their shooters down,” Morse said. “We just kept playing and did what it took to pull it out. We were confident, and not as nervous, after beating them the first time.”
“We wanted this so bad,” Cowen said. “Defense is what held us in all the way. This team has determination, and we love each other like brothers. we had to hold them off; we knew it in our hearts.”
CINCY JVs nipped McGraw 45-44 in the prelim on sophomore guard Josh Enders’ two free throws with six seconds left. as the Red Lions improve to 9-1 league and 11-3 overall.
Enders led the winners with 12 points, while freshman center Cody Beckwith had eight points and seven rebounds, freshman forward Kyle Loomis seven points. freshman guard-forward Justin Heath eight rebounds and sophomore forward-center Dalton Sudbrink seven rebounds.
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