By: Maggie Fipps
“We played a lineup I’ve never even put together in practice.”
That’s not usually the phrase you want to hear from your head coach after a game. However, after the Cedarville men’s basketball team went down 12 points in the opening minutes of the first half, Head Coach Pat Estep knew he had to do something drastic.
“The lineup was all guards,” said Estep. “I was just trying to find five guys who could space them out.”
His out-of-the-box thinking paid off, as Cedarville came back to dominate the Malone Pioneers 90-79.
The Pioneers came into the game stacked, winning their last three matchups against Cedarville in Callan Athletic Center. The Jackets also had aspirations to move out of the bottom half of the G-MAC playoff picture.
The tough loss against Hillsdale on Thursday could have contributed to their rusty start, but once the Jackets put their offense into gear, Malone had a hard time stopping the momentum. The bench players that comprised the unusual lineup made major contributions, including meaningful minutes from freshman Ethan Sellars and senior Tytist Dean.
“The starters were a step slow, but the bench guys came in and started hitting shots for us, and that’s what really turned the page,” sophomore forward Jayvon Maughmer said.
By halftime, the Jackets seemed to have control, leading 42-37. However, the Pioneers kept nailing shots behind the arc, every 3 points reminding the Jackets that they wouldn’t go down without a fight.
The Pioneers entered the second half with a quick three-pointer, and the Jackets responded poorly with a travel penalty. Malone was in a prime position to take the game back. They cut the lead to a single point after a penalty by the Jackets. However, Cedarville’s Grant Whisman didn’t allow that kind of disrespect, and at the fourteen-minute mark, slammed down an emphatic dunk, a symbolic door-slam to end Malone’s comeback efforts.
Estep emphasized the impact of Whisman on the team dynamic.
“Grant hit a couple of monster threes,” said Estep. “We needed him to get going and play what he’s capable of.”
As the team surveys their upcoming conference schedule, Estep emphasized the need for confidence in his players.
“We have some depth we can throw at them. We have size that we can take advantage of.”
The Jackets’ remaining schedule features some formidable conference foes, and they hope to finish strong in their season as they did tonight.
Maggie Fipps is a sophomore journalism student and the sports editor of Cedars. She enjoys playing the piano and thrifting, and you may spot her around campus sporting Packers gear head to toe.
*Picture from Roberto Moran