A second quarter barrage of three-pointers and domination of the offensive glass led the Coldwater Cavaliers to their first double-win weekend of the season.
Covington – The Coldwater Cavaliers are beginning to find their rhythm on the basketball court.
With six games remaining in the regular season, their timing couldn’t be better.
The Cavaliers made eight three-pointers in the first half to take control, and dominated the offensive glass all night to stay there in a 67-55 win over Covington in the Buccaneers new gym.
The Cavaliers improved to 7-9 with the win, which followed a 58-35 MAC win over New Bremen Friday night. It’s the first time the Cavaliers have put together back to back wins for first year head coach Nick Fisher.
“We have been talking about getting on a run,” said Fisher with a grin outside the Cavaliers locker room. “You have to get two before you can get on a run. We have had trouble getting back to back wins, so this is a big win for us. Our execution is getting better. This is a step in the right direction.”
“It was a matter of getting a defensive stop, and then having to get two more,” Covington coach Matt Pond said, referring to the Cavaliers’ prowess on the offensive glass. “They just killed us on the offensive glass, and that’s a tribute to the way they played. I think our kids thought we were boxing out, but I bet when we look at the film we’ll see that we were jumping instead. That was really the difference in the game.”
The game was tied four times in the first quarter, but Mitch Balster hit a three pointer at the first quarter horn to give Coldwater a 17-14 advantage. It was Balster’s only hoop of the night, but it ignited a firestorm of threes in the second quarter.
Sophomore Marcus Bruns hit a pair of threes in the quarter, while Sam Broering, Dylan Thobe and Cole Frilling all added triples to account for 15 of the Cavaliers 17 points in the second quarter. Nathan Blei hit Covington’s only three of the first half, and the Buccs found themselves down 34-25 at the break.
“We have a lot of guys in that locker room who can shoot threes,” Fisher acknowledged after Coldwater improved to 7-9. We were getting good looks, and moving the ball. That’s the best we have shot in a half from the three-point line, but we are very capable of it.”
“We knew they liked to shoot it out there,” said Pond. “Maybe we should have gone to man earlier. I thought we looked tired for some reason. That’s not an excuse, they played last night too. Defensive rebounding has been a problem at times this season, and it definitely was tonight.”
After going 8 for 16 from the arc in the first half, the Cavaliers cooled off after intermission, hitting just 2 of nine from long range. When the shots quit falling, the Cavaliers pounded the offensive glass.
Coldwater grabbed 18 offensive rebounds for the night, and they resulted in the Cavaliers going to the line 27 times in the second half. While their free throw shooting wasn’t perfect (they missed 10 of those 27 chances) it was more than enough to keep the Buccaneers at bay.
On one third quarter possession, Coldwater grabbed four offensive rebounds before finally going to the line.
After trailing by 13 early in the fourth quarter, Covington closed the margin to 53-48. Ben Wenning, one of two sophomores, along with Frilling, that saw extensive playing time off the bench, nailed a three on the Cavaliers next possession, and the Buccaneers never challenged again.
“We did some good things offensively,” explained Pond. “We changed defenses and they only made two threes in the second half. But we routinely got beat off the free throw line, for whatever reason. It wasn’t lack of effort, but lack of execution.”
The Cavaliers had great balance offensively as eight players scored. Sophomore Bruns made two threes and scored a team high 15. 6-6 Senior Dylan Thobe also nailed two treys and finished with 11. Sam Broering had three triples on his way to 10 points, while Neal Muhlenkamp added 9. The two sophomores, 6-4 Cole Frilling and the 6-1 Wenning, combined for 14 off the bench, drawing the praise of their coach.
“Two young kids that are really athletic and aren’t afraid to get after it. It’s just a matter of getting them to understand the execution part and taking care of the ball at the varsity level.”
Covington was led by senior Nathan Blei’s 19 points, while Trevor Miller added 16.
Coldwater shot 42% from the floor, 40% from the arc, and 61% from the line, making 19 of 31. Covington shot 40% from the floor, just 22% from the arc on 5 of 23, and 57% from the line. The Buccs cost themselves dearly from the stripe, going 6 of 14 in the second half.
Coldwater had a massive 33-19 advantage on the glass, holding Covington to 8 defensive boards all night. The Cavs turned the ball over ten times to just 5 for the Buccaneers.
“We did a lot of good things on the offensive end,” Pond said after the Buccs fell to 9-8 on the season. “Moving without the basketball, sharing the basketball, things that we preach. But other things that we preach, we didn’t get done. We want to execute in all aspects of the game. If we want to be the team we think we can be, we have to get that fixed.”
With a new coach and a late start because of the football playoffs, it’s taken the Cavaliers a while to come together.
“People don’t think about that at this time of year,” Fisher said with a nod of his head. “We have had a couple of injuries to seniors, and they are just starting to get back into it. The late start put us behind the eight-ball. But our young guys are starting to come on, and I have been real pleased with our effort all year. We are right there.
“We have been talking about closing strong, then making some noise in the tournament. We have Arcanum Tuesday, then Fort Recovery, Versailles, Wapak and Marion. It’s definitely a tough road, but it will get us ready for the tournament.”