CARLINVILLE — The East Alton-Wood River Oiler boys didn't advance through the 44th annual Carlinville Holiday Tournament like they had hoped, but finished strong against the Carlinville Cavaliers Tuesday to claim fifth place with a score of 50-37 and a tournament record of 2-2. The Oilers improved their record to 5-7 for the season.
"I feel that our style of play is pretty tough, especially when the officiating is as tight as it was," EA-WR head coach Kyle Duncan said. "I think our guys adapted to it well; we got frustrated at times, but overall coming out of here with two wins is pretty good for us."
Duncan was given an early exit following two technical fouls during the game versus Staunton on Saturday, handing EA-WR their first loss of the tournament 68-59. EA-WR assistant coach Tyler Bress stepped in to conduct the Oilers in Duncan's absence, but fell short to tournament leader Litchfield 73-48.
The Oilers took charge early against the Cavaliers and didn't look back, controlling a 15-7 lead at the end of the first quarter. EA-WR pushed the host school to their furthest deficit of 31-16 just before the half. Oiler senior Mike Stimac, who is playing with a torn meniscus, was the example with 22 solo points at the sound of the buzzer.
"To get back and have a good game without pain feels good," Stimac said. "Tonight I felt as though my knee was almost back to normal. I'm not really having any side effects from the injury at all. I knew I really couldn't hurt it any worse and I didn't want to have the surgery and miss my senior year. Everyone clicked and we played really hard on defense, which translated into some easy offensive opportunities. When (Blake) Marks and I can get it going, we can dish it up for some three's."
The second half brought out Carlinville's aggressive game as the time wound down on the clock, racking up 17 total team fouls against the Cavaliers. The Oilers charged back, earning 20 total team fouls and allowing the Cavies to earn seven free points in the game. Several warnings issued to both sides by officials to keep the physical game on the football field left the Oilers and Cavaliers watching foul totals carefully. Defense was key for EA-WR and Carlinville, holding each other back to just six points for the Cavies and seven points for the Oilers by the end of the third quarter, leaving the Oilers with a 38-22 lead.
"We had trouble today getting into the flow," Carlinville head coach Alan Cooper said. "We made some bad decisions and turned the ball over way too much. We had bad passes, probably threw away eight to 10 turnovers with that. Stimac finally got hot after struggling when he returned from injury and we didn't do a very good job guarding him as a team. He did a good job; like I said, he's been struggling, so it's really nice to see him play well."
The Cavaliers outscored the Oilers in the fourth quarter 15-12, but it wouldn't be enough to erase the margin. The Oilers took the lead as an opportunity to allow bench players time on the court and gain some experience. EA-WR would take the win on the Cavaliers' home court with a final score of 50-37 as Carlinville's tournament record took a 1-3 hit and collapsed their season record to 2-9.
"I'm proud of how the guys came back tonight and played hard," Duncan said. "I know Mikey (Stimac) had 30 points, 13 rebounds and seven blocks. I think he's finally starting to get back in the groove of things. He couldn't miss in that first half; it's finally coming together individually for him. It's good to see. I couldn't be happier with our guys' performance; they all played hard together. It's nice to take this bus ride home stress-free."
The Oilers will take a break to ring in the new year and recoup from four games in four days before boarding the bus for a conference game at at 7:15 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 3, at Nokomis. The Oilers won't return to their own hardwood until Tuesday, Jan. 6, when they will battle Calhoun at 6 p.m.
CARLINVILLE HOLIDAY TOURNAMENT
EA-WR 50 - CARLINVILLE 37
EA-WR - 15 16 7 12 - 50
CARLINVILLE - 7 9 6 15 - 37
EA-WR (5-7) -- Mike Stimac 30, Blake Marks 13, Dillon Buck 4, Nic Daily 3
2FG--16 3FG--3 9/13 Free throw
CARLINVILLE (2-9) -- Adam Walton 8, Brady Jamieson 2, Jessy Robinson 8, Kinney Myles 6, Connor McClain 7, Joeb Easterday 6
2FG--15 3FG--0 7/20 Free throw