by Abigail Hintz
The Cedarville men’s basketball team passed a huge test of the season with flying colors, taking down Ohio Dominican 79-63 without losing the lead once. The high-stakes matchup was a battle for second place in the conference, which Cedarville (11-8, 8-3 G-MAC) now holds with Thursday’s win over the defending G-MAC champions.
Coming into the game, Cedarville and Ohio Dominican were level in terms of stats. The Jackets had the edge in 3-point field goals and free throws, thanks in part to sophomore Conner TenHove who leads the G-MAC in 3-pointers and puts down 98 percent of his free throws.
The game was not won by a star, however. The Jackets came out of the game with four players in double digits, with TenHove and freshman Branden Maughmer tied at the team-high 14 points. Off the bench, Cedarville outscored Ohio Dominican 20-4.
“We don’t care who scores the most,” said Maughmer, who shot 6-10 from the field and 2-2 on 3-pointers. “It’s a team thing. As long as we’re winning, that’s all that matters.”
Both teams struggled to find their groove in the first ten minutes. Cedarville took the game’s first possession and points, clearly spurred on by its home crowd, but Ohio Dominican was never far behind. The Panthers stayed within eight points or less through most of the first half. There were several scoring droughts early, some going as long as two and a half minutes.
When the Jackets broke a 10-point lead, however, the momentum was all theirs. With seven minutes to play, freshman Quinton Green came up with a 3-pointer followed closely by a huge dunk that brought the Callan Athletic Center to its feet. From there it was all Cedarville, who stayed at least 10 points ahead of the Panthers for the rest of the half and went into the locker room up 34-24.
Ohio Dominican fought hard coming out of halftime, getting back to single digit deficits several times throughout the half. It didn’t last long, as the Panthers’ head coach received a technical foul in the eighth minute and his team fell from there. The Jackets controlled their destiny from this point forward. They were focused and sharp, keeping the Panthers down double digit deficits for the rest of the night.
Senior Grant Zawadzki came up big for the Jackets in the second half, adding 10 points to his first half total of three. Freshman Kollin Van Horn also had an impressive half, adding five rebounds and eight points to his first half totals.
“That’s probably the most complete defensive game we’ve played all year,” said head coach Pat Estepp. “I thought we played with a lot of toughness.”
Thursday’s game was preceded by a lot of anticipation on Cedarville’s campus, especially surrounding the notorious Towel Gang, who had the night named after them. The game itself was full of energy, and Estepp hopes to see that continue in the future.
“It was a tremendous encouragement for our guys to see a bunch of people in the stands,” said Estepp.
The Jackets look to build on their three-game winning streak this Saturday with another G-MAC battle against Ohio Valley at 7:45. Cedarville will then begin a three-week road trip, kicking it off against current G-MAC leader Findlay on Jan.
Abigail Hintz is a freshman journalism major and sports writer for Cedars. She loves sending people GIFs, reading books and watching way more soccer than the average person.