After trailing through two quarters against visiting Cardington, Mount Gilead was able to turn the tide of their Friday night boys’ basketball contest with a dominating third-quarter performance on their way to winning 59-52.
The Indians (7-10, 5-5) trailed 32-22 at the intermission, but were able to hold Cardington to only five points in the third to get back into a game they would eventually win.
“We talked about it at the half,” said MG coach Dan Strasser. “We needed to challenge the basketball better and cut down on their drives. Basketball’s not a complex sport if you do the little things.”
Initially, the third quarter didn’t start out in the favor of the Indians. A free throw by Merek McClure and a bucket from A.J. Brehm increased the Pirate lead to 35-22 with 6:09 left in the period. However, they would only score two points the rest of the way and Mount Gilead heated up.
Mount Gilead scored 16 points in the quarter, with Matthew Bland scoring six and Elijah Chafin tallying five, to lead 38-37 when the fourth quarter started.
The Pirates opened the period with a score from Nate Hickman to lead 39-38, but that would be the last time they held an advantage in the game. With the score tied at 41, the Indians got five straight points by Chafin and two from Carter Kennon to take a seven-point lead. Cardington would not get closer than five points the rest of the way in falling to 3-13, 1-9 in KMAC play.
“We asked them to be patient and they weren’t,” said head coach Ryan Treese. “We asked them to box out and they didn’t. We asked them to play defense and they didn’t. We’re not a winning program as of right now, so we’re not used to carrying a 13-point lead for a long time.”
Cardington led for most of the first half. After two baskets by Chafin staked MG to a 4-0 lead in the first quarter, the Pirates rebounded to get five points from Brehm, three from Hickman and three more from Connor Mcie to surge in front by an 11-4 count.
It was 14-7 going into the second quarter when Paul Butterman hit back-to-back shots and Cam Vickers added a free throw to bring the Indians back within two points. However, a three from Brehm brought the Pirate lead back up to five points. Journey Williamson, A.J. Hall and Gavin Crockett all added threes in the quarter as Cardington was able to extend their lead to a 10-point margin.
Strasser was pleased with the heart his team showed in battling back from that deficit in the second half.
“I thought our guys were pretty resilient,” he said. “It didn’t sap our energy when we made that run. We tried to slow down our offense and be patient.”
And it didn’t hurt to have Bland back. After missing most of the season due to injury, the junior guard was playing in only his second game of the season. He finished with 17 points to go along with Chafin’s game-high 20 and Butterman’s eight.
“That was a great surprise,” said Strasser. “We didn’t think we’d get him back. You know what he’s capable of. He can score in spurts and that’s what he did tonight.”
Cardington got 16 from Brehm, nine from Hickman and eight by Crockett. Treese noted that the play of Brehm, a freshman starter, was a bright point in the game.
“We’ve asked him to do that all year,” said the coach. “We need him to score. Sometimes, he’s too passive, but tonight he wasn’t. He showed he belongs and he’s out there for the right reason.”
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS