Braves outgun Eagles in SAC opener
Brandon Miniard, Sports Writer, [email protected]
As the Lanesville Eagles took the floor Friday night, they knew there was more on the line than just a simple win on their home court.
Opposite of the host Eagles stood rival Borden as the two teams began Southern Athletic Conference play against one another. Just like in years’ past, the Eagles Nest had hardly any open seats; the taken seats were filled mostly with purple-clad spectators hoping the hometown squad would post its fifth consecutive victory over the Braves.
Those hopes fell through as the Braves held the edge on the scoreboard for almost the entire contest, holding the Eagles’ offense to an anemic 28% from the field en route to an emphatic 52-30 victory on the road.
“When you look at player versus player, I think we’re similar, but when it comes down to getting second-chance buckets and loose balls, (Borden) got most of those, which is too many for us,” Eagles’ skipper Mikel Miller said. “We got out-hustled on a lot of 50-50 balls. They were tougher and stronger at times than us and wanted it more than we did the majority of the game.”
The hosts struck the opening salvo when junior center Lucas Frazier knocked down a pair of free throws. The Braves answered right back with a three-pointer from Sterling Mikel, which sparked a 10-0 run. Cruz Martin and Mason Jones both sank buckets, while Shawn Condon converted on a three-point play to cap the early surge.
While shaken by the string of buckets, the Eagles managed to close the gap with a layup from junior guard Maddex Miller. Junior guard Jack Crosby cut the deficit to a single possession on a last-second triple, giving the Braves a slim 10-7 edge to close out the period.
That lead quickly grew as the Braves began the second quarter on a 7-0 run, highlighted by a Jones triple. The Braves also saw Mikel go off during the period with eight points alongside a bucket from Kasym Nash. The Eagles attempted to keep up with triples from Crosby and junior guard Dawson Teeter, along with another bucket from Maddex Miller, but a Mason Carter triple right before the buzzer sent a fired up Braves squad to the locker room with a 26-15 advantage.
“We did a lot of switching defensively, so the last guy setting that screen, we expected him to step out (against Carter), but he didn’t get out there,” Miller said.
The buzzer beater seemed to add fuel to the Braves’ fire coming into the second half as they continued their offensive assault, led by four points from Carter, a three-point play from Jones, buckets from Mikel and Martin and a pair of freebies courtesy of Brady Schuler. The Braves’ defense was also superb as they held the Eagles to just nine points, coming off triples from Teeter and Crosby, a basket by junior center Kameron Walter and a free throw from senior guard Carter Smith, resulting in a 39-24 Braves’ lead.
Any chance of a late comeback vanquished in the final period as the Braves continued their onslaught, led by three triples from Nash alongside buckets from Martin and Alex Schuler. The Eagles only mustered six points in the period off a pair of buckets from Smith and a basket from Frazier, which finished off the Braves’ 52-30 victory to open conference play.
Mikel led the way for the Braves with 13 points, 11 of which came in the first half, while Nash chipped in 11. The Eagles failed to have even one player score in double-figures, the closest being Crosby’s nine alongside Teeter’s six.
“To (Borden’s) credit, they hit shots; that’s something in the first three games that we’ve struggled mightily with,” Miller said. “First game of the year (against Evansville Christian), I don’t think we even shot 30%, second game (against Corydon Central) was a shade over 30. Tonight might have been better, but not good enough to win.”
With the victory, the Braves won their first game against the Eagles since Dec. 2, 2016, when the Braves beat the Eagles 55-42 en route to winning their first seven games of the 2016-17 season. It’s also the first time the Braves beat the Eagles in Lanesville since Jan. 3, 2014.
The loss gives the Eagles their first 0-3 start since the 2014-15 season. It got worse for the Eagles on Saturday night when they traveled to Paoli, falling to the Rams 60-33, handing the Eagles their first 0-4 start since the 2007-08 campaign. This comes despite the Eagles reportedly having a good week of practice coming into what became a disastrous weekend.
“We have some people from a confidence level where they missed a couple shots here and there, and right now they’re a little gun shy to look to shoot again,” Miller said. “We’re not telling them not to shoot, but you gotta make sure you are getting a high percentage shot and shots based upon ball movement. We had a pretty good week of practice, but we’ve got to connect more weeks of practices together like we had this past week.”
The Eagles will have more chances to crack into the win column as they begin a four-game homestand, starting by hosting Providence on Friday followed by Springs Valley on Saturday. Both contests are set to tip at 7:30 p.m.
Borden 10 16 13 13 – 52
Lanesville 7 8 9 6 – 30
Borden (2-1, 1-0 SAC) – Mikel 13, Nash 11, Jones 8, Carter 7, Martin 6, Condon 3, A. Schuler 2, B. TheSchuler 2.
Lanesville (0-3, 0-1 SAC) – Crosby 9, Teeter 6, Smith 5, Frazier 4, Miller 4, Walter 2.
3-point goals – Borden 6 (Nash 3, Carter 1, Jones 1, Mikel 1); Lanesville 5 (Crosby 3, Teeter 2).