Friday night was the beginning of a new chapter for Coach Pat Estepp and his staff. Cedarville men’s basketball opened up its 2013-2014 campaign in the second Don Callan Classic against NCAA Division II St. Joseph’s College.
Much anticipation was in the air as seven new players began their careers. The student section was loud and energized. President Thomas White kicked off the season with an invocation.
The Jacket’s starting line included Austin Pickett and Jason Cuffee at the guard positions, with JC Faubion, Lane Vander Hulst and Brian Grant in the frontcourt.
Freshman point guard Pickett scooped a wrap-around pass to senior Grant for the first two points of the season.
What ensued after those opening moments was an all-out war. If anyone remembers last year’s opener, a double-overtime scrap with the gritty Holy Family Tigers, the scene at Stranahan Gymnasium Friday night was eerily parallel. Like last year’s opener, the game went into double overtime with both teams receiving big-time contributions from both starters and bench players.
Grant, in his final opening game as a Jacket, and Faubion, in his first game ever, came up huge for Cedarville. Grant had a career high 25 points on 11-13 shooting to go with 11 rebounds. He is the lone senior on this year’s team.
Faubiondropped 24 points on 7-10 shooting to go with eight rebounds and four assists. His free throw with two seconds left forced a second overtime.
Hulst recorded 11 points and six boards in his debut. Austin Pickett handled the ball well and dished out nine assists in his first game. Jason Cuffee, Jason Reep and Easton Bazzoli battled also, playing active defense and moving together on offense.
The difference for Cedarville was Leighton Smith. The junior poured in 18 points and grabbed 14 rebounds, including ten offensive. His highlights included seven straight points late in the second half plus a monster dunk off a Faubion alley-oop pass.
St. Joseph’s starting frontline scored and competed consistently for 50 minutes. A 6 feet five inches senior forward, Jon Smith, poured in 30 points and ripped down 12 rebounds. Swingman Cameron Vines paced the Pumas with 24 points and 11 rebounds of his own. Maiscei Grier dropped 13 points while Ryan Rebholz added 11.
With five seconds to go in regulation, Brian Grant scored a layup to tie the game at eighty-eight, forcing overtime. A wild scene unfolded next as the Pumas, trailing by one, missed a corner three with seconds left then forced a steal off a Jacket’s rebound. The ball fell to Rebholz who scored a wide open layup to go up 95-94 with five seconds left. On the game-winning attempt, Faubion was fouled. He went to the line and hit one of two, tying the game.
The Jackets pulled away in the final overtime with offensive rebounds from Grant and Smith and made free throws from freshman Bazzoli, Faubion and Pickett.
Cedarville plays again at Callan Nov. 10, at 5:15 p.m. against University of Wisconsin-Parkside.
Dave Guidone is a sophomore social studies education major and a sports reporter for Cedars. He is from Bristol, Conn., his life verse is Psalms19:14, and he loves time spent with family and friends.