by Tim Miller
The Cedarville Yellow Jackets began a five-game homestand with a 97-76 beatdown of Ohio Valley on Saturday afternoon. Six Yellow Jackets reached double figures as Cedarville improved to 11-8 and 7-3 in the G-MAC.
Junior forward Conner TenHove came off the bench to lead the Yellow Jackets with 22 points on 8-13 shooting. The G-MAC standout also added 14 rebounds for yet another double-double.
Head coach Pat Estepp said the key to TenHove’s success was his aggressiveness offensively.
“It was good to have Conner back,” Estepp said. “Every player hits a slump at times and he really hadn’t hit one in his career until the last few games. He started pressing a little bit, but I’m really proud of how he’s handled it.
Sophomore guard Quinton Green followed TenHove with 16 points, five rebounds, and five assists. Sophomore guard Branden Maughmer added 14 points and six dimes. Freshman forward Jacob Drees was one point shy of his career high with 12 points and also grabbed six rebounds. Sophomore forward Isaiah Speelman and freshman guard Dan McKeeman matched each other with 11 points.
As a team, Cedarville shot 54.5% from the field and netted 12 triples. In contrast, Ohio Valley made just 40% of its shots from the field.
Cedarville continued with its young lineup, featuring four sophomores and one freshman, forward Jacob Drees. In just over two minutes, the Fighting Scots jumped to a 6-2 lead. In the next two minutes, the Yellow Jackets responded with five straight points. At the first media timeout, Cedarville led 7-6, with Green contributing five.
The scoring stretch didn’t stop there, as Cedarville continued to pound Ohio Valley, which produced an 11-1 run in the next four minutes. After a TenHove layup with 13:39 left, Cedarville led 13-7.
Cedarville continued to pour it on by forcing turnovers, winning on the glass, and converting looks offensively. With 8:48 on the clock, Cedarville held a 25-19 mark.
Drees bowled in for a fastbreak layup and followed by draining a 3-pointer, giving Cedarville a 32-24 lead with 6:45 remaining. The lead was pushed to 10 after Drees found McKeeman for an easy layup off of a sneaky cut to the hoop.
From the seven-minute mark to the three-minute mark, the Yellow Jackets scored 16 points. While the Fighting Scots hit shots here and there, they had no chance to keep up with the scorching hot Yellow Jackets. McKeeman used a saucy hesitation move to put Cedarville up 43-32 with 3:12 left.
At halftime, Cedarville held a 47-40 margin. The lead felt bigger, as the Yellow Jackets controlled the half for the most part. TenHove led the Yellow Jackets in scoring with 14 points and also ripped away five rebounds. Only four other Cedarville players scored as Drees had nine points, Green and McKeeman both had seven, and Speelman contributed four.
Cedarville’s sophisticated slices to the cup gave way to scoring 28 points in the paint in the first half. The Yellow Jackets also shot 57.6% from the field.
If there was any cause for concern at the half, it was that Cedarville was out-hustled on the glass during spans of the first 20 minutes. Ohio Valley pulled down one more rebound than Cedarville, and also enjoyed nine offensive rebounds. However, the Fighting Scots made just 39.5% of their shots from the field.
“I didn’t think we were urgent enough and I didn’t think our guys were locked in,” Estepp said of the first half. “They made us pay, but our guys responded well.”
Cedarville’s offense may as well had been shot out of a cannon to start the second half, as the Yellow Jackets scored seven points in barely a minute to take a 54-42 lead.
On the next possession, sophomore forward Kollin Van Horn shoved a dunk through the rim with his right hand, effectively removing the heart from the poor Fighting Scot defender who tried to defend Van Horn. The slam was by far the best dunk of the season by any Yellow Jacket and was Van Horn’s only points of the contest.
The baptism sent Callan through the roof and gave the Yellow Jackets all the juice they needed to pull away. Speelman clowned around for an acrobatic layup, twisting himself and spinning while hitting the shot, and with 15:34 left, Cedarville led 62-44.
“I think the difference started in the second half,” Estepp said. “I think we picked our defensive intensity up which allowed us to get out in transition. We started rebounding better too.”
Cedarville didn’t need anything else after that run, and the Yellow Jackets coddled their lead for the rest of the game. Surprisingly, Estepp left his starters and key bench players on the floor until the 2:35 mark in the half. Cedarville had pushed its lead to 29 at one point.
The Yellow Jackets move forward in their homestand with a bout against Trevecca on Thursday evening. Cedarville smashed the Trojans in their Dec. 14 meeting, 91-67. The Trojans entered the day tied for last place in the G-MAC with the Fighting Scots.
“This is the time of the year where we usually start playing well,” Estepp said. ” I expect our guys to do that. If we can stay healthy, we’ll start clicking more and get rolling.”
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.