JERSEYVILLE – Narrow losses continue to nag the Civic Memorial boys’ basketball team. The Eagles seem to be a little snake-bit early this season.
Jersey fought off CM, 40-38, in a Mississippi Valley Conference rivalry game Friday at Havens Gym. While the Panthers improved to 5-2 overall and 2-0 in the Valley, the Eagles dipped to 3-4 and 1-2.
Those four defeats have been by a total of nine points, including a trio of two-point losses. The Eagles have played three overtime contests, winning one.
“We’ve had seven games go to the last shot, the last possession or overtime,” CM coach Doug Carey said. “We’re playing tight and tense now because we have so many inexperienced kids.
“It’s time to grow up. And it'll come.”
The Eagles did some growing just before half against the Panthers. CM led 14-9, then watched Jersey go on a 16-point spree to build a double digit lead. The Eagles trailed 27-16 before scoring the final 11 points of the half.
After that, it was a seesaw game most of the rest of the way. The Panthers didn’t secure their victory until the Eagles missed their last two shots in the closing seconds.
“Doug and I talked before the game about the conference and we don’t know who is the best team and who is the worst team,” Jersey coach Stote Reeder said. “It’s very even.”
Jersey, riding the scoring of 6-foot-1 junior Zac Ridenhour, forged ahead 39-31 with 5:36 remaining. Ridenhour made 7 of 12 shots and tallied a game-best 16 points. Teammate Luke Shively punched in nine points on a trio of treys.
“He (Ridenhour) played very little varsity basketball last season, but we knew he could be a scorer for us this season,” Reeder said. “He has gotten a lot tougher.”
Carey added, “He played well and they made a lot of 3-pointers."
Yet the Panthers managed only one fourth quarter point – Ridenhour’s free throw with 24.9 seconds to play – and the Eagles made a late run at them.
Jakob Lowrance hit a shot and then contributed a 3-pointer to cut Jersey’s advantage to 39-36 with 2:24 to go. Caleb Buhs’ rebound basket made it 39-38 with 1:05 remaining.
Ridenhour sank 1 of 2 foul shots that closed out the scoring, but not the dramatics. Lowrance missed two free throws and Jake Varble of Jersey didn’t convert the front end of a bonus attempt to give CM one last attempt.
Adam Hill missed a 3-point shot and Brett Lane couldn’t connect on the rebound try as the game ended.
Lane, a 6-3 junior guard, scored 14 points to place the Eagles. He made five shots, including three treys. Buhs snared 11 rebounds. Top gun Lowrance was limited to seven points, five in the fourth quarter.
“We didn’t deserve to win because we played so poorly,” Carey said. CM made 14 of 45 shots while Jersey hit on 16 of 45 field-goal tries.
Reeder noted, “We were 1-for-7 overall from the foul line and scored one point in the fourth quarter, but we were able to win the game.”
He figures there will be more Valley thrillers along the way.
“We got a couple of early (conference) wins and that’s so important,” Reeder said. “It could be that seven wins could win it this season. So you can’t lose conference games at home.”
CM will finally get a Valley home game next Tuesday, when the Eagles entertain Mascoutah. They’ve won at Triad and lost at Highland in overtime affairs.
JERSEY 40, CM 38
CM 14 13 4 7 – 38
Jersey 15 12 12 1 – 40
CM (3-4, 1-2) – Lowrance 7, Hill 6, Lane 14, Buhs 6, Lehnen 2, Hampton 3. 2FG-9 3FG-5 FT-5 PF-11
Jersey (5-2, 2-0) – Varble 6, Shively 9, Ridenhour 16, Kanallakan 3, Witt 6. 2FG-9 3FG-7 FT-1PF-15