It’s been a rough 24 hours for the Carbondale boys basketball team, but the Terriers pulled together and picked up a 43-39 win over a solid Cahokia squad Friday night in South Seven Conference action.
Friday morning, the Terriers found out it would be without its leading scorer and Ball State University recruit, Kani Acree, for an extended period of time. Acree, who averaged 19 points per game, suffered a knee injury on Thursday evening.
The Terriers (7-2, 3-1) never could amass a big lead on the Comanches, but they started and finished the game strong.
“It has been such an emotional roller coaster all day long,” said Carbondale coach Jim Miller. “We finished practice last night and had a great practice. We had our game plan all in place. We wake up this morning and get the call that Kani’s knee is locked up. Our kids were very resilient, and they showed a lot of maturity today. They understood that they were going to have to step up, and it was going to be a hard game anyway.”
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A 3-pointer from Elijah Rice, and a free throw from Richard Robinson tied the game for Cahokia at 7-7 with 3:33 left in the first quarter. The Terriers responded with a 10-0 run to end the period.
James Baltz started and finished the streak with baskets, and Darius Beane knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers as well.
Carbondale held a 17-7 lead after one quarter, but the Comanches held the Terriers without a point for the first six-plus minutes of the second quarter. Cahokia shaved six points off its deficit during that time.
“The contributions we got from every single one of those kids was outstanding,” Miller said. “Zee Johnson did a great job of working off the ball and working with the ball. I thought his second half was very good. James Baltz just continues to gain confidence and get better for us.”
Baltz contributed 11 points for Carbondale, and Johnson added 10. Beane led the Terriers with 15 points, and he was huge at the charity stripe down the stretch.
Beane scored eight points in the first period, but was shut out over the next two quarters. With the game on the line, Beane sank 7 of 8 shots from the free-throw line in the final three minutes of the contest.
“Darius had a tremendous first quarter, and then they locked him,” Miller said. “They took away some of his momentum. But it didn’t take away his effort. I thought he grew a little bit today as well.”
Cahokia (4-4, 2-1) still had its chances to win this game. Kent Quilling drained a 3-pointer to make it a 41-37 game with 27 seconds left. But the Terriers made enough free throws late to hold for the victory.
Rice led Cahokia with 13 points, and Robinson tallied 11.