BETHALTO — It went to the wire Friday when Civic Memorial outlasted rival Jersey, 57-54, in a Mississippi Valley Conference boys’ basketball game.
CM coach Doug Carey had a succinct way to describe the Eagles’ persistence and perseverance in the Valley thriller.
“We survived,” a relieved Carey said after CM’s narrow victory. “It was a crazy finish to say the least, but we got the win.”
Nothing was decided until Jake Ridenour of Jersey missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer. The Panthers rallied from a nine-point third quarter deficit, but came up short. They saw their three-game winning streak snapped as Jersey fell to 3-4 and 1-1. CM improved to 5-2 and 2-1.
“Sometimes you get beat and sometimes you lose the game,” Jersey coach Stote Reeder said. “It might have been a little bit of both for us tonight.”
The Panthers never led but battled back to knot things at 37-37 late in the third quarter. Then the Eagles went on a 9-0 spree and seemingly had things under control.
Not so fast. Jersey closed to within 48-46 with 2:59 remaining in the game. JaQuan Adams of CM hit for a 3-point play to make it 51-46 with 2 minutes to play.
Then Jersey’s Zac Ridenhour, who led all scorers with 18 points, fouled out with 1:13 to go. His fifth foul was a technical.
“Zac got a strange technical for talking to a coach,” Reeder said of his conversation with Ridenhour. “Apparently, one of the officials thought Zac was talking to him.
“But it is what it is. We could have folded and we didn’t do that.”
CM’s lead shrunk to 54-52 with 22 seconds remaining. Adams sank a pair of free throws with 17.3 seconds left to extend the Eagles’ lead to 4 points. Jake Ridenhour countered with a basket 11 seconds later and CM’s Brett Lane made 1 of 2 foul shots with 5.1 seconds to go in completing the scoring.
Lane (11 points) and Brandon Hampton (10 points) led CM’s attack. Jersey’s Drake Kanallakan, hampered by foul woes, also tallied 10 points, 9 in the second half. Jake Ridenhour had 11 points.
“We didn’t play well in the fourth quarter, we turned the ball over and we didn’t make our free throws,” Carey said.
CM made just 9 of 17 foul shots in the fourth quarter and was 19 of 28 from the line overall. The Eagles hit 16 of 47 field-goal tries. Jersey made 22 of 44 shots and was 7 of 14 on its free throws.
Carey noted, “We have to get better finishing the game.”
Bench play kept the Eagles flying in the right direction. Reserve Justin Williams pitched in seven points, five in the first half. Teammate Geoff Withers, another reserve, logged all five of his points in the second quarter.
“Both of them came in and played well,” Carey said. “We’re going to play eight or nine guys and we need all of them to contribute.”
All of them did. David Lane, Adam Hill and Adams scored eight points apiece. All of Adams’ points came in the second half after CM enjoyed a 26-22 advantage at the break. Brett Lane punched in eight of his points in the third quarter.
“We didn’t play badly, except for the last three or four minutes,” Carey said. “And overall, we played a little better than we did Tuesday (in a 69-46 loss) against Highland.”
Reeder said, “Their bench played well and they had role players hit some big shots. It also hurt us when our three returning starters got in foul trouble.”
He added, “You can give me the blame for this one. I probably had our kids thinking too much about what we were doing. Maybe we overthought it a little bit because we got what we needed with our basic stuff.”
CM resumes MVC play Tuesday at Mascoutah and then goes to Roxana for a neighborhood rivalry game on Dec. 18.
CM 57, JERSEY 54
Jersey 9 13 15 17 – 54
CM 12 14 20 11 – 57
Jersey (3-4, 1-1) – Jacob Witt 4, Jake Ridenhour 11, Blake Wittman 7, Zac Ridenhour 18, Lucas Ross 2, Drake Kanallakan 10, A.J. Shaw 2. 2FG-19 3FG-3 FT-7 PF-24
CM (5-2, 2-1) – Brandon Hampton 10, David Lane 8, Adam Hill 8, Brett Lane 11, JaQuan Adams 8, Geoff Withers 5, Justin Williams 7. 2FG-10 3FG-6 FT-19 PF-19