BETHALTO — A fast and furious second-half rally couldn’t propel Civic Memorial past Taylorville in the season opener for both teams in Bethalto Monday night.
The Tornadoes held on for a 58-55 boys’ basketball victory in the initial night of the Stove Top Stuffing Tournament. CM plays Tuesday at Triad in its second tourney contest.
“We played a great second half and didn’t give up,” Eagles’ coach Doug Carey said. “We just ran out of time.”
CM trailed hot-shooting Taylorville 22-11 at the end of the first quarter and the Tornadoes once led 30-11. They even enjoyed a 34-19 halftime advantage.
Yet the Eagles went to work after that, thanks mainly to power point production from Jakob Lowrance. The 6-foot-8 senior center, bound for Central Missouri State in Warrensburg, tallied a game-best 29 points.
“He kept us in the game,” said Carey, pointing out that Lowrance scored 17 of the Eagles’ 19 first-half points. “I couldn’t take him off the floor.”
Taylorville coach Carey McVickers added, “He was tough to defend and it surprised me the way he hit his 3-point shots. That makes him even harder to guard. He has really improved.”
Teammate Zach Lehnen, a 6-3 senior forward, pitched in 12 points – 10 the second half – as the Eagles chopped into Taylorville’s big lead. They sliced it to 41-37 late in the third quarter and 50-48 with three minutes to go in the game. Lowrance connected on a trey with 1.2 seconds remaining to get the Eagles within three points.
They pressed Taylorville on the Tornadoes’ ensuing inbounds pass and the ball bounced out of bounds. But the buzzer sounded as the Eagles truly ran out of time.
“We dug ourselves too big of hole at the start of the game,” Carey said. “I don’t think we were playing great defense in the first quarter, but they (Tornadoes) knocked down some tough shots.”
Eric Dust (23 points) and Cole Sheedy (17 points) kept the Tornadoes humming. Dust, a 6-8 senior center, scored a team-best 23 points. He sank a pair of 3-pointers in the first quarter when Taylorville made 9 of its first 11 shots. Sheedy, a 6-3 senior, contributed 17 points and hit a trio of treys. All figured, the Tornadoes punched in 10 shots from beyond the arc. Tanner Champley logged two of them in scoring 11 points. The Tornadoes made 22 of 47 shots overall.
“That’s our game. We shoot a lot of 3-pointers,” McVickers said. “We usually will shoot 30 of them a game. We like to run and press and we wanted to do that because we knew they (Eagles) have some size.”
Lowrance hit 12 of 20 shots for his big night. The Eagles shot 55 percent from the field in converting 24 of 44 tries. In the second half, they made 16 of 24 shots, going 8-for-12 in both the third and fourth quarters.
“We got the ball inside more in the second half,” Carey said. “Our guards didn’t have a lot of turnovers and I was pleased with that. But I wasn’t happy with our defensive effort.”
He said Tuesday’s game at Triad is a key one for CM. “It’s a big game because it also counts as a conference one,” Carey said. “We’re already focused on it.”
Nokomis, which lost to Granite City, 64-31 on Monday, plays at Taylorville on Tuesday night. CM is idle Wednesday, then heads to Granite City for games Friday and Saturday in the round-robin competition. The Eagles meet Nokomis at 6 p.m. Friday and the host Warriors at 7:30 Saturday.
STOVE TOP STUFFING TOURNAMENT
TAYLORVILLE 58, CM 55
Taylorville 22 12 10 14 – 58
CM 11 8 19 17 – 55
Taylorville (1-0) – Rhymes 1, Sheedy 17, Dust 23, Snyder 4, Heimsness 2, Champley 11. 2FG-12 3FG-10 FT-4 PF-7
CM (0-1) – Lowrance 29, Hill 6, Lane 5, Buhs 1, Lehnen 12, Ricci 2. 2FG-21 3FG-3 FT-4 PF-13