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Warriors claim EIC title with 6-0 mark

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Patoka meets goal, wins Egyptian-Illini Conference boys basketball title for first time since 1999-00 season

By Andrew Harner

PATOKA – With eight seniors on his roster, Patoka coach Joey Eddy might have thought the most difficult part of last Thursday’s senior night game would be determining who would start.

Turned out that beating the upstart Ramsey Rams for the third time this season was quite the challenge, too.

Ramsey controlled the game’s tempo for the half and held a lead into the fourth quarter, but a 10-for-16 effort from the free-throw line down the stretch gave Patoka enough for a 56-48 victory, its fifth win in the Egyptian-Illini Conference.

The Warriors concluded conference play last Saturday, earning a 68-52 win against Cowden-Herrick to win its first EIC championship since 1999-00.

“You can’t replace a group of seniors like this,” Eddy said. “They all accept their roles, and want to make us better.

“They are happy when we succeed, because they succeeded as a team, and that is how this class has been since they were little bitty guys.”

Senior Johnnie Clift had 20 points and 17 rebounds during Saturday's contest, finishing the EIC season averaging nearly a double-double, with 17.5 points and 9.8 rebounds per game.

Also with a double-double against the Hornets was freshman Jered Cain, who scored 12 points and had 11 assists. He averaged 16 points per game in the EIC.

The Warriors (18-6, 6-0 EIC) trailed by a point after the first quarter, but held a 21-4 advantage in the second period to take a lead they would not lose.

Cowden-Herrick outscored Patoka, 17-10, in the third quarter, but the Warriors finished strong with a 27-20 advantage in the final eight minutes.

Of the seniors, only three are starters, but all of them got into last Thursday’s game in the opening quarter. Eddy said starters were mostly selected by polling the players.

But that turned out to be the start of a back-and-forth affair that wouldn’t be decided until the fourth quarter.

Ramsey scored on its first two possession of the final period to take a 41-37 lead, and held its last lead at 43-42 with 4:10 left in the game.

After that, Patoka closed the game on a 14-5 run that included that 10-for-16 effort from the free-throw line and a second-chance layup by junior Tyler Back with 1:12 left in the game.

The key, Eddy said, was finally getting control of the game’s pace.

“They slowed us down in the first half. We tried to speed the game up, but we turned the ball over two or three times, because we were trying too hard to speed up the game,” Eddy said. “In the second half, we got them sped up, and that’s what we have to do, because we want people to make bad decisions or take quick shots, which plays into our game.”

Ramsey (8-12, 2-4 EIC) committed three turnovers in the final 4:10, leading directly to five Patoka points.

The Warriors took their time on the first possession of the game, chewing off 1:28 before senior Trey Lowery put up a 3-pointer, but Ramsey senior Ryan Kelly knotted the game with his own 3 a couple of minutes later.

Those were the first of seven long-range shots for each team. Four times, the teams traded 3-pointers on consecutive scoring possessions.

A second-chance layup by Ramsey senior Tylor Knisley with 44 seconds left in the first quarter sparked an 8-0 run that helped the Rams maintain a lead over the second and third periods.

Knisley had a game-high 22 points, and Eddy said that he is a tough player for his team to defend.

“It doesn’t matter how the teams are, Ramsey plays us good. They are a hard matchup for us,” Eddy said. “That Knisley kid is as tough as there is around, and they figured out how to beat are 3-2 zone (defense).

“You have to tip your hat to them, because they got us out of what we wanted to do and made us do something different.”

Despite that, Patoka is 3-0 against the Rams this season.

A 3-pointer by freshman Jered Cain, who paced Patoka with 17 points, gave the Warriors a one-point lead with 3:43 to play in the third quarter.

But a flurry of points in the final minute left the game tied at 37 going to the final eight minutes.

Senior Seth Allen knocked down a 3-pointer with 47 seconds left in the period, and Ramsey junior Michael Lay quickly answered with his own trey 22 seconds later.

Knisley then got a steal and scored a layup with nine seconds left, but Patoka managed to tie the game when Back floated in a jumper at the buzzer.

“Normally, we would hold it for one (shot), but I told Seth if he got the kick out to knock it down, and he did,” Eddy said. “Then, they went down and knocked one down, and then we played hacky sack with ball, but Tyler ended up with it and knocked down a shot at the buzzer.”

Patoka also picked up an EIC win last Wednesday against Mulberry Grove, winning the road game, 67-47.

Clift had 15 points and 12 rebounds to pace the Warriors, and Cain had a game-high 16 points.

Also scoring in double figures were Allen and Back, with 11 points each.

The game opened at a furious pace, with Patoka outscoring the Aces, 24-16, over the first eight minutes, but it was the third quarter that made the difference in the final outcome.

Patoka led by seven at halftime, but scored another 24 points in the third period, while holding Mulberry Grove to just five to take a 60-34 advantage.

Saturday, Feb. 15

Patoka 68

Cowden-Herrick 52

P: 10-21-10-27—68

C: 11-4-17-20—52

Points: Clift, 20; Cain, 12; Dylan Back, 10; Allen, 7; T. Back, 7; Lowery, 4; Garrett Belcher, 2; Dylan Collier, 2; Sheldan Felchlia, 2; John Houston, 2.

Record: 18-6 (6-0 EIC)

Thursday, Feb. 13

Patoka 56

Ramsey 48

R: 9-18-10-11—48

P: 8-12-17-19—56

Warriors

Points: Cain, 17; T. Back, 14; Clift, 10; Allen, 7; D. Back, 3; Lowery, 3; Houston, 2.

Rebounds: Cain, 8; Clift, 7; Felchlia, 5; Team, 4; Allen, 2; T. Back, 2; Tristan Hull, 2; Lowery, 2; D. Back, 1; Ryan Miller, 1.

Assists: Clift, 3; Felchlia, 3; T. Back, 2; Allen, 1; D. Back, 1; Cain, 1; Hull, 1.

Steals: T. Back, 3; D. Back, 1; Clift, 1.

Block: Collier, 1.

Record: 17-6 (5-0 EIC)

Rams

Points: Knisley, 22; Kelly, 10; Kyle Adermann, 6; Lay, 6; Carson Thomas, 2; Tristan Wesselman, 2.

Rebounds: Knisley, 6; Wesselman, 5; Kelly, 4; Thomas, 4; Adermann, 3; Team, 2.

Assists: Kelly, 5; Carter Hunt, 1; Kelly, 1; Knisley, 1.

Steals: Knisley, 4; Hunt, 1; Kelly, 1; Thomas, 1; Wesselman, 1.

Block: Wesselman, 1.

Record: 8-12 (2-4 EIC)

Wednesday, Feb. 12

Patoka 67

Mulberry Grove 47

P: 24-12-24-7—67

M: 16-13-5-13—47

Points: Cain, 16; Clift, 15; Allen, 11; T. Back, 11; D. Back, 5; Collier, 2; Felchlia, 2; Houston, 2; Lowery, 2; Josh Brooks, 1.

 Record: 16-6 (4-0 EIC)