BETHALTO – Get aggressive, but also unwind, Civic Memorial boys’ basketball coach Doug Carey told the Eagles at halftime Friday.
They obliged and posted a 65-54 victory over Jersey in a pivotal Mississippi Valley Conference game. CM improved to 16-8 overall and 4-2 in the conference. The Eagles have won 13 of their past 17 games. The Panthers, who defeated CM, 40-38 on Dec. 12 in Jerseyville, dropped to 14-9 and 4-2.
“In the first half, we played pretty passively,” Carey said after seeing Jersey sprint in front, 20-12, and snare a 28-22 halftime lead. “So we told the kids to play hard, but also to relax in the second half.
“We were very aggressive and we hit our shots.”
CM made its first six shots – and 9 of 10 – to start the third quarter and turned a halftime deficit into a nine-point advantage. The Eagles led 43-36 at the end of the third quarter and never looked back.
Overall, they made 24 of 37 shots, a torrid 65 percent. Jakob Lowrance (20 points), freshman Jaquan Adams (12 points), junior Brett Lane (11 points) and senior Zack Lehnen (eight points) showed the way.
Adams made 6 of 10 field-goal attempts on the night and hit four shots in the fourth quarter. Lane notched 10 of his points the second half. Lehnen, who didn’t take a shot the first half, sank a pair of 3-pointers in the third quarter to stir the Eagles. He finished it off by going 4-for-4 from the floor.
“Zack’s two 3-pointers really turned the tide for us,” Carey said. “And Jaquan played great.”
Jersey coach Stote Reeder liked the way the Panthers played the first half. Yet they didn’t maintain that intensity.
“Our first-half defense was impressive, but it wasn’t there in the second half,” he said. “Foul trouble hurt us, too.
“They (Eagles) lit it up in the third quarter, though we didn’t contest enough of their shots. Our defense wasn’t good enough.”
Zac Ridenhour kept the Panthers in the thick of things, even when the Eagles seemingly couldn’t miss a shot. Ridenhour, a 6-foot-1 junior, poured in a game-high 24 points, including 14 in the fourth quarter. Teammate Jake Varble, bound for Southern Illinois University Carbondale on a football scholarship, netted 11 points before he fouled out with 1:32 remaining.
“He played really well,” Reeder said of Ridenhour. “He did everything he could do for us.”
Highland, 5-1 in the conference, remains the Valley leader. Jersey and CM trail the Bulldogs by a game and both of them still have games to play against Highland. The Panthers visit the Bulldogs on Feb. 20 and the Eagles entertain Highland on Feb. 24.
“It’s far from over in the conference,” Reeder said. “We had a chance to help ourselves tonight, but we didn’t do that. Now, we gave CM a chance at it.”
Carey said, “It was nice to take care of business tonight. But we have to keep rolling. We’ve been playing well, except for our game at Mater Dei."
He enjoyed the way the Eagles rolled up their scoring in a 43-point second half against the Panthers. They made 15 of 19 shots and 10 of 14 free throws. Jersey hit 18 of 42 overall shots and 14 of 22 free throws.
“Everybody played fantastic in the second half,” Carey said. “If we can continue to play like that down the stretch, we are going to be tough to beat.”
The Eagles also survived when top gun Lowrance logged his fourth foul with 7:25 to play and CM holding a 43-36 lead. Lowrance returned with 2:35 remaining.
“We weren’t afraid to score when we had the lead and when Jake was out of the lineup,” Carey said.
Jersey and CM could cross paths again in the upcoming Class 3A Panthers’ Regional. Highland, Triad and Marquette Catholic are also in the field.
CM 65, JERSEY 54
Jersey 11 17 8 18 – 54
CM 9 13 22 21 – 65
Jersey (14-9, 4-2) – Jake Varble 11, Luke Shively 6, Zac Ridenhour 24, Jordan Witt 1, Drake Kanallakan 8, A.J. Staples 2, Ethan Ward 2. 2FG-14 3FG-4 FT-14 PF-19
CM (16-8, 4-2) – Jakob Lowrance 20, Adam Hill 6, Brett Lane 11, Zack Lehnen 8, Jaquan Adams 12, David Lane 5, Brandon Hampton 3. 2FG-19 3FG-5 FT-12 PF-16