Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL


February 3, 2014

South Central comes back for first win, seventh place

ALTAMONT — Cowden-Herrick learned the hard way that games aren’t won in the first quarter, not even against a team that was looking for its first win on Saturday.

South Central trailed by 18 points in the first quarter, but came back to win by 13 in what head coach Rick Simmons called an “unbelievable” first win of the season.

The Cougars scored 51 points in the second half, including 36 in the final quarter, to beat the Hornets 61-48 in the National Trail Conference tournament’s seventh-place game.

“It’s a big thing for the kids, for our community, to get that weight off of their shoulders,” Simmons said. “I have broad shoulders, I can handle just about anything, so it’s really a relief for them.”

Evan Langley carried the Cougars with all of his 23 points coming in the second half, including 19 in the fourth quarter.

Simmons said he never expected Langley to “light it up like he did” in the fourth, but Langley found open spots in the post after Cowden-Herrick’s Dylan Barnes fouled out of the game.

“Once Dylan fouled out, we were in trouble with low post defense,” Cowden-Herrick head coach Marc Bain said. “It’s hard to move those big bodies around when your big bodies are on the bench.”

Barnes was one of two Hornets, along with Colton Burrus, who committed three fouls in the first half. Barnes committed a fourth early in the third quarter, forcing Bain to take him out of the game.

Still, the Hornets held a 34-25 lead after three quarters. They led 18-3 after the first and the Cougars only outscored them by three points in the second and three in the third.

They needed a big fourth quarter to complete the comeback, trailing by nine points, and they got it — first, with some defensive pressure.

The Cougars went to a full-court press defense to try to stir the game up, down double digits. Simmons said he made the change earlier than he wanted to, but it worked out anyway.

“Once we put it on, things changed considerably,” Simmons said. “What we didn’t steal, we got our hands on and forced them into some quick shots.”

South Central started the fourth quarter on an 8-0 run to get within one point of a tie, but the Hornets took back a four-point lead on the ensuing possession.

Burrus received a full-court inbounds pass to break the defensive pressure. He made a layup and the resulting free throw after a foul.

The play turned out to be a rare example of the Hornets succeeding in breaking the Cougars’ full-court defense.

Langley converted a three-point play off of a layup and foul to give South Central its first lead of the game, then Brett Harmeier stole the ensuing inbounds pass and made a layup with 5:27 to play.

All of a sudden, the Cougars held an eight-point lead with 2:59 left in the game and extended it to 11 points with 1:33 remaining.

The game was out of Bain’s control as the Hornets watched an 18-point first-quarter lead turn into a double-digit deficit.

“You can sit with your three three-ring binders of plays and do whatever or have Coach (Mike Krzyzewski of Duke) come and give a seminar on how to run plays, but it’s not going to work if the boys don’t execute,” Bain said.

Trevor Markley went 4-for-4 from the free throw line, down the stretch, to help maintain South Central’s lead. The Hornets only came as close as seven points with 1:04 left.

South Central lost its first 18 games this season, before Saturday’s win became one to remember.

Alex McNamee can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 123, or alex.mcnamee@effinghamdailynews.com.

South Central          3 7 15 36     61

Cowden-Herrick     18 4 12 14     48

South Central: Harmeier 10, Markley 9, Langley 23, Riley 4, Ross 6, Powless 9

Cowden-Herrick: Blackerby 3, Sphar 10, Lorton 2, Burrus 18, Sandiford 2, Barnes 2, Evans 11


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