JERSEYVILLE - Some old-fashioned tenacity went a long way for the Jersey Panthers on Friday at Havens Gym.
They used plenty of resolve to defeat Civic Memorial 40-35 in a Mississippi Valley Conference boys basketball game. The Panthers, getting payback for a loss last month in Bethalto, are 13-9 and 3-3. CM is 13-10 and 2-4.
“You can file this one under a toughness win,” Jersey coach Stote Reeder said. “Our defense was good and our effort was great.”
And Jersey’s offense, which lagged in the first half, came alive after that. The Panthers, trailing 17-11 at the break, got to within 26-22 after three quarters and then benefited from an 18-point fourth quarter.
Guard Kyle Steckel and forward Luke Shively ignited the Panthers’ second-half surge. Steckel scored seven of his game-high 12 points in the third quarter and Shively hit nine of his 11 points in the fourth quarter. Teammate Jake Varble pitched in 11 points.
Jersey used a 7-0 spurt at the start of the final quarter to grab a 29-26 lead and the Panthers never trailed the rest of the way. They made 7 of 8 fourth-quarter free throws to ensure the victory.
Overall, Jersey made 14 of 42 shots. The Panthers were just 4 of 21 in the first half and missed 10 treys.
“We struggled in the first half, but we turned it around in the second half,” Steckel said. “We didn’t make any 3-pointers or layups, or get in the lane in the first half. We knew that getting in the lane was our only chance in the second half.”
Shively added, “We felt that they (Eagles) had the momentum in the first half because we were a little timid and not making shots. Then Kyle got us going in the fourth quarter.”
Once Steckel started scoring, Shively followed suit. “If Luke makes one or two shots, it’ll open up the lanes,” Steckel said.
Guard Jansen Helmkamp CM with 11 points. Jakob Lowrance, the Eagles’ 6-foot-7 center, contributed 10 points. He made 4 of 7 shots, including a trey. The visitors made 15 of 39 shots.
“We didn’t shoot the ball well, but they didn’t either,” CM coach Doug Carey said. “I think the difference was that they were more physical and we didn’t handle that very well down the stretch.”
Carey said the Eagles have sustained some narrow losses this season, mainly because of lack of production. “Defensively, we are pretty good, but there are times that we just can’t score,” he added.
Reeder knows the feeling. The Panthers were the gang that couldn’t shoot straight in the first half.
“I was speechless at halftime,” Reeder said. “There really wasn’t much to say. But I was begging to get more movement and our transition game going.”
The Panthers let their second-half play do the talking. They considered it a vital win, especially after bowing to the Eagles the first time.
“It was a ‘must’ game, but all of the rest of our conference games are ‘must’ ones,” Shively said. “We’ve dug ourselves a hole in the conference, so we have to win the rest of our games.”
JERSEY 40, CM 35
CM 9 8 9 9 – 35
Jersey 6 56 11 18 – 40
CM (13-10, 2-4) – Lowrance 10, Campbell 5, Helmkamp 11, Lane 2, Warren 3, Flack 4. 2FG-13 3FG-2 FT-13 PF-14
Jersey (13-9, 3-3) – Obertino 4, Ritchey 2, Shively 11, Steckel 12, Varble 11. 2FG-12 3FG-2 FT-10 PF-9