Carlyle was in their review mirror from start to finish, but the Freeburg Midgets could never make them disappear entirely from view.
Freeburg kept the persistent Indians out of the passing lane by hitting 24 of 30 free throws in a 52-40 Cahokia Conference win.
For all its tenacity, Carlyle struggled from the field, missing key layups and putbacks while the game was still within reach. The Indians also turned the ball over 21 times.
“You can’t miss layups and expect to win, and you can’t turn it over 21 times either,” said Carlyle coach Andy Palmer. “You turn it over, you give up offensive rebounds and you don’t put it in the hole, that’s not a very good recipe for success. That’s been the story of our season.”
Carlyle (4-14) has lost 10 of its last 11 games.
Freeburg improved to 9-8, coach TJ Hoover said, primarily because of its role players.
Leading scorer Jacob Mueller had 16 points, but landed just one field goal and a pair of free throws in the second half. And second-leading scorer, Zach Dieker, who entered the game averaging 10.7 points per game, was on the bench with foul trouble.
But the Midgets got 17 points off their bench, including seven from junior Ross Keleher, and a key three-point basket from DJ Valleroy that put Freeburg up by five and sparked a 10-2 run.
Senior starters Austin Munie and Carter Bonta led a defensive effort that produced the 21 Carlyle turnovers.
“The biggest thing for us was that when Jacob struggled, some other guys stepped up,” Hoover said. “(Munie) doesn’t do a lot on the stats sheet, but he’s what I call a glue guy. He defends somebody or he helps defend somebody.
“You can’t state enough about Carter Bonta and what he did tonight. I don’t know how many steals he had but there were a ton of them. He only had four points but he was the biggest factor in the game, I thought.”
Carlyle did its best to keep the game close. Freeburg opened an early 9-1 lead, but three-point baskets by Maverick Taylor and a buzzer-beater by Andy Becker narrowed the lead at the end of the first quarter.
The Indians got within two, 13-11, on a stick-back basket by Brent Johnson. That’s when Valleroy’s 3-pointer sparked the Freeburg surge that carried them into halftime with a 12-point lead.
Freeburg widened the lead to 36-20 midway through the third quarter on short jumpers by Bonta and Mueller. But Carlyle’s pressure defense held the Midgets to just a single field goal for the remainder of the game.
Connor Toennies scored four points in an 8-0 Carlyle run and Taylor drained a three-pointer and a pair of free throws to make a two possession game, 46-40, with 1:26 left.
The Midgets were good on six of eight from the free throw line to secure the win.
“You got to give them credit for making their free throws,” Palmer said. “They took a lot of them though.”
Mueller was the game’s leading scorer with 16, while Diecker had eight. Freeburg also got seven points from Ross Keleher; four eah from Bonta, Munie, Valleroy and Brennan Dermody; three from Will Hogan; and two from Braeden Chandler.
Johnson led Carlyle with nine points, Toennies and Taylor each had eight, Andy Becker had five, and Gunner Bretz had two.