EUREKA – Entering Tuesday, one of two scenarios would play out. First, Fieldcrest could even their Heart of Illinois Conference record or second, Eureka would secure a winning league slate.
The former happened, as the Knights emerged with a 50-38 triumph.
Fieldcrest (17-10, 7-6) made 10 three-pointers versus Heyworth and hit four in the opening eight minutes versus Eureka, two of which came from Hayden Carls, the last one gave the guests a 14-4 lead.
“We played a really good game against Heyworth,” stated Knights’ coach Matt Winkler. “I was hoping we would be able to ride that momentum. We started off shooting the ball well, but hit a bit of a lull.”
The guests only made two threes the rest of the game.
Meanwhile, Eureka (12-12, 7-6) closed to within 19-18 a triple from Jake Bachman.
The Hornets took a page from the University of Wisconsin playbook, as they used the swing offense that was employed under Bo Ryan and now under current coach Greg Gard. This is where the guards post up and receive an entry pass by an interior player.
“We just felt that was where we could score the most,” explained Eureka coach Tim Meiss. “We were trying to get it inside.”
To counteract that, the Knights attempted to put more bodies in three-second area.
“They (Eureka) decided to post up their guards,” Winkler said. “We had to get more help in the post and we did.”
Fieldcrest led by three at 21-18 at intermission. The Knights stayed on top for the remainder, which included a three from Ryan Naas to increase the lead four to seven at 35-28 early in the final quarter.
“Ryan Naas hit a huge three to go up seven,” recalled Winkler. “Then we spread it out and made our free throws.”
First-year point guard Jaxon Cusac-McKay, who did not score the entire first half, recorded 12 of his team-high 15 points in the fourth. Carls added 11 points.
Keith Walder led the Hornets with 15 points, while Adam Anderson chipped in with 11.
Fieldcrest finished 15 of 38 from the floor for 39 percent, while Eureka ended up 14 of 40 for 35 percent.
Tuesday was the fourth time on the season the Hornets were held under 40 points, although, according to Meiss, the Knights had a hand in that.
“I think you have to give Fieldcrest credit. They did a nice job on defense,” he commented.