by Tim Miller
In basketball, the only thing that matters is that you outscore your opponent when the clock strikes zero. Though the Cedarville Yellow Jackets (3-4) led for less than five minutes during regulation, they got hot at the right time and overcame Lake Erie 77-69 in overtime on Thursday night.
Head coach Pat Estepp said he was proud of his team’s mental toughness in the win tonight and that it showed defensively.
“Nothing was going our way offensively,” Estepp said. “A lot of times when you’re not making shots, it affects your defense. I thought we defended them really well.”
Sophomore guard Quinton Green totaled 24 points and eight rebounds, and also hit the game-tying shot that sent the Yellow Jackets to overtime. Junior forward Conner TenHove had a strong showing with his third double-double of the season, scoring 16 points and a season-high 14 rebounds. Sophomore forward Kollin Van Horn reached double figures with 11 points.
Sophomore and leading scorer Branden Maughmer only scored four points, but contributed elsewhere with 10 rebounds and seven assists. Estepp was still pleased that the Chillicothe, Ohio native didn’t hang his head even though his shots weren’t falling.
“He really affected the game. He didn’t let missing shots affect him,” Estepp said.
Cedarville scored the first six points of the game, but Lake Erie bounced back with the next six to tie it with just under 16 minutes to play.
Lake Erie took its first lead with 13:04 on the clock, taking an 11-10 advantage. The teams continued to feel each other out early and trade small blows, but neither squad was able to show a clear edge early.
The Yellow Jackets suffered turnovers on four possessions in a row, which allowed Lake Erie to pull away for a short time. The Storm were up 18-13 with 8:44 remaining thanks to Cedarville’s sloppy play.
After another turnover led to an easy fastbreak lay-up for the Storm, Estepp called a timeout as the game began to get away from the Yellow Jackets. With 7:08 left, Lake Erie led 25-17. Out of the timeout, Green was pegged with an offensive charge, giving the Storm the ball and he change to go up by double digits.
Cedarville forced a missed shot on the defensive end, and then scored via a pair of freshman guard Dan McKeenman free throws, making the score 25-19.
The Yellow Jackets continued to struggle, looking flat at times and failing to find quality shots. Lake Erie was able to swell its lead to 11 with 5:06 left, and Cedarville looked as if it was beating itself out of the game.
While Cedarville held Lake Erie scoreless for a period of over two minutes, they missed nine of their final 10 field goal attempts to close the half. The Yellow Jackets had a chance to chip the lead down to single digits to close the half, but turned the ball over with eight seconds left. Lake Erie held a 34-24 margin at the half.
TenHove (seven points), McKeenman (seven points), Green (six points), and Van Horn (four points) were the lone Yellow Jackets to score in the half. Maughmer (20.2 points per game entering the game) attempted just three shots in 10 minutes of play.
As a whole, Cedarville made only 33.3% of its shots from the field and a weak 9.1% (one of 11) attempts from behind the 3-point line. Turnovers were a pervasive problem throughout the half, as the Yellow Jackets were walloped with 10. Lake Erie, on the other hand, gave the ball away only two times.
On the bright side, the Yellow Jackets were plus-six on the glass. Further, though the Yellow Jackets played a bad brand of basketball in the first half, they were only down by 10.
Cedarville slowly inched itself back into the game, cutting Lake Erie’s lead to six. However, the gap remained glued at six for three minutes, as the Yellow Jackets were unable to convert multiple chances to cut the lead further. The Storm finally removed the cover from their rim with 12:25 left, pushing their lead to 43-35.
Green showed up for his second bucket of the half with 8:06 on the clock, knocking down a triple and giving Cedarville life. After a stop on the other end, sophomore forward Isaiah Speelman spun around for a reverse lay-up to bring Cedarville within a possession. Lake Erie called a timeout with 7:29 left, clinging to a 51-48 lead.
Cedarville continued to fight with grit and didn’t allow the margin to grow past four. At the media timeout with 3:59 remaining, the Yellow Jackets trailed 54-52. Cedarville watched shots rattle in and out as the Yellow Jackets tried and tried to tie or take the lead, but they still were unable to get over the hump.
Van Horn had a chance to give the Yellow Jackets the lead, but he missed what would have been a strong two-handed jam. Parker also missed a lay-up in which goaltending could have been called, but there was no call. With 1:27 on the clock, Lake Erie led 57-55.
With nine seconds left, Green nailed a fading triple from the right wing to tie the game at 60. Lake Erie was unable to score on an open triple with a second left, sending the game to overtime.
Cedarville scored the first four points of the overtime period, as Green hit another triple, this time from the left corner. With 4:10 on the clock, Cedarville owned a world of momentum and a 64-60 lead.
TenHove followed by rattling in a trifecta with 3:20 left, giving Cedarville a 67-62 advantage. The red-hot Yellow Jackets would not relent, as Green hit yet another jumper to give the Yellow Jackets a seven-point lead. Lake Erie called a timeout in response, as the game had spiraled from their grasp.
The Yellow Jackets showed no urgency and played conservatively, only throwing safe passes and shooting the ball late in the shot clock. TenHove made two free throws to give Cedarville a 71-64 lead with 54 ticks left.
Cedarville melted the clock away en route to its second overtime win of the young season.
While the Yellow Jackets have struggled to start the season due to a rigorous schedule, Estepp said the tough games were needed for nights like these.
“We’ve played some of the best teams in our region and obviously our exhibition schedule turns out to be almost like a Final Four with Dayton and Ohio State in there,” Estepp said. “It made us tougher and I don’t think we would’ve won tonight without playing those games.”
Cedarville will travel to Malone on Saturday for its second G-MAC contest. Malone is 5-4 this season and lost to Northwood by nine (the Yellow Jackets lost to Northwood by four). Cedarville won the only matchup between the two teams last season 87-76.
Tim Miller is a senior marketing major, editor-in-chief and sports editor for Cedars. He enjoys having a baby face, knowing too much about health insurance, and striving to perfect the optimal combination of Dwight Schrute and Ron Swanson.