Pictured is #10 Lane Hightower
The Cedarville Pirates have spent the entire basketball season prematurely aging their fans with their close calls and near misses and during last night’s Regional game against the Valley Springs Tigers, it was no different. The game got off to a slow start for Cedarville with the first quarter ending 13-5 Valley Springs. But those who truly know the Pirates know that they do some of their best work under pressure and boy was the pressure on! Apparently, Cedarville was just playing opossum because when the second quarter got started, so did the Pirates.
Cedarville knew they were going to have to change things up a bit if they were going to get the upper-hand on the well-rounded and skilled Tigers. Every Pirate strapped on their jet packs and blasted up and down the court poppin’ points and laying down the law. By the time the game reached halftime, the score read 25-25. With the match halfway over, it now boiled down to who wants it more and who’s willing to push themselves past the realm of uncomfortable. Teams don’t make it this far into the basketball season by luck. It’s the best of the best.
With the third quarter in full swing, it was evident to everyone watching, that neither team was going to just roll over. Both teams’ offenses and defenses were evenly matched and by the time the fourth quarter was ready to start, the scoreboard was lit up 40-39 Cedarville. This was it. The most important eight minutes of the Pirates and the Tigers careers. Eight minutes to go full-speed. Eight minutes to determine who was going to State. Eight minutes to go big or go home.
As time ticked down, the Tigers started to slowly buckle under the stress making tiny mistakes that the Pirates were able to quickly capitalize on. And by the final buzzer, Cedarville took the win 56-53 and punched their ticket to State which is something that was last done in 2014! Austin Cluck led the Pirates in scoring with 19 points followed by Darryl Kattich with 13, Austin Swaim with 7, Lane Hightower and Cody Dickens with 6 each, Dylan Cluck with 4, and Tommy Metcalf with 1 point. “Valley Springs is a really big physical and experienced team,” explained Coach Frank Cluck. “They played a great game. Our boys battled hard to compete throughout the entire game.”
“The extra push came in the early part of the 4th quarter. I think our depth really helped late in the game. Our bench really contributed throughout but especially late in the game. Sophomores Hayden Morton and Lane Hightower plus seniors Connor Templeton and Tommy Metcalf came off the bench to give us quality minutes throughout the match.” The Pirates aren’t done just yet though as they have the semi-final round of Regionals tonight at 7 pm against the Waldron Bulldogs.
Photos courtesy of Charity Templeton