by Josh Decker
The Cedarville Yellow Jackets used a strong home performance to complete a two-day sweep of Walsh (7-7), winning Thursday night by a score of 74-54.
The victory extends the Jacket’s winning streak to four games, and improves their season record to 10-5. The win also moves Cedarville up into third place in the G-MAC standings.
The Yellow Jackets finished the night with three players in double-figures offensively. Junior Quinton Green paced the Jackets with 20 points on 8-15 shooting from the field. Senior Conner TenHove fired in three triples on an efficient 4-6 shooting on his way to dropping 15 points, and junior Kollin VanHorn rounded out the top scorers for Cedarville scoring 14 points.The Yellow Jackets started the game off really slow as Walsh shot lights out, going up 13-2 over the home team by the first media timeout. Cedarville converted on just one of their first eight possessions, committing three turnovers in a matter of only a few minutes.
With the starting lineup struggling from the tip, head coach Pat Estepp looked to his bench to provide a spark. Sophomore Jacob Drees and freshman Jayvon Maughmer entered the game, and the offense started clicking for the Jackets while the defensive intensity picked up.
By the 12-minute mark of the first half, Cedarville had cut the Walsh lead to two and was back in the game.
A triple from TenHove with eight minutes left in the half gave the Jackets their first lead of the night with the score at 21-20.
In the midst of scoring on five straight possessions, Cedarville got its first double-digit lead of the game- a 30-20 advantage- at the under four-minute media timeout.
Remarkably, since getting down big only a few minutes into the game, Cedarville had put together a 28-4 run over Walsh- an indication of how good this team can be when the ball is moving, shots are falling, and the team is playing good defense.
“We started slow and they [Walsh] started really well. I thought we lacked the defensive urgency we needed, and offensively we were playing a little passive,” said Estepp about his team’s start. “I think we picked up our defense, and did a really good job of controlling the boards and pounding the ball inside, which were big keys to the run.”
A couple Walsh baskets cut the Jackets’ lead to 34-27 going into halftime, but all the momentum was on Cedarville’s side.
The Jackets shot 45 percent from the floor in the first 20 minutes, and were only 6-17, or 35 percent, from behind-the-arc. Cedarville did control the boards, however, and held a 23-11 advantage over the Cavaliers in that category.
By the first timeout of the second half, Cedarville had built the lead back to a double-digit lead, with the score at 39-29.
Walsh was able to cut into the deficit and get within two possessions of Cedarville with seven minutes remaining, but the offense for the Yellow Jackets began to take over again.
With just over six minutes left in the game, the Jackets went on a run of six straight possessions with a basket, including two straight Isaiah Speelman triples.
Even with the outcome of the game not in question anymore, the Jackets’ capped off the win with two highlight-reel dunks by Quinton Green and Branden Maughmer- both in the last thirty seconds of the game to seal the 74-70 victory.
Cedarville shot the ball better in the second half, and finished the night at 49 percent from the field and 42 percent from deep.
The Jackets’ also rebounded from the previous matchup against Walsh in which Cedarville was out-worked on the boards, winning the glass by a large 38-23 margin on Thursday night.
Points in the paint favored Cedarville 30-24, and the Yellow Jackets’ dished out 18 assists in the contest. Half of the 18 assists were from Maughmer, who despite only scoring seven points, led the team in assists while grabbing six rebounds too.
“I’m proud of our team for the toughness they showed tonight,” said Estepp.
Cedarville will have another quick turnaround as the team welcomes Malone to the Callan Athletic Center on Saturday, February 20th. The game is also Senior Day, which will honor the seniors on the team. Tip-off is set for 4:00 p.m. as the Jackets look to extend their winning streak to five games.
Josh Decker is a junior Sport Business Management major, and a sports reporter for Cedars. He loves playing sports with friends, and spends much of his free time as a student assistant for the Cedarville men’s basketball team.