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NEIGHBORS BATTLING IT OUT

AT THE RIM - Hayden Carls of Fieldcrest goes for a layin while Flanagan-Cornell's Jeremy Durdan challenges on Dec. 7. The Knights won the Heart of Illinois Conference game 69-59 (For the Journal/TNT Photo).

MINONK – Even though the boys’ basketball squads from Flanagan-Cornell and Fieldcrest combined to commit 50 fouls, including six players who were penalized with five, there was some offense that broke out in between all of the whistles on Dec. 7.

The Knights put four players in double figures to claim a 69-59 Heart of Illinois Conference win.

A runner in the lane from Jaxon Cusac-McKay gave Fieldcrest (8-1, 3-0) a lead of 25-9 in the early going of the second quarter. He finished with a game-high 24 points.

According to Knights’ coach Matt Winkler, the sophomore point guard is looking more for his offense this season.

“Definitely tonight and with a year under his belt. It’s hard to believe he’s only a sophomore,” Winkler said. “His three-ball is getting better. He can get his shot whenever he wants.”

Facing the possibility of getting run of the gym, F-C (5-5, 1-4) fought back and close to 37-34 on a bucket from Tyler Harms.

The answer was a triple from Cusac-McKay.

Having an advantage in quickness by starting three guards, Fieldcrest attempted to beat the Falcons off the dribble.

“Derek (May) and Jaxon of course…we stressed taking the ball to the basket,” said Winkler.”

Of the 23 points the Knights scored in the fourth period, 14 came at the foul line. On the game, they were 28 of 37.

F-C saw four players including starters Karson Kimpling, Braden Wallace and Isaac Weber foul out along with top reverse Drew Eckhoff. Fieldcrest had starters May and Clay Wells go to the sidelines with five personals.

“A lot of free throws. I was proud of how we made free throws,” Winkler said. “I was proud of the way we handled the ball.”

The hosts committed eight turnovers, which was eight fewer than the Falcons.

May finished with 13 points, while Hayden Carls and Garrett Nix added 10 apiece. Carls and Nix each made eight free throws, while Cusac-McKay sank six.

Jeremy Durdan, who came in averaging 20.6 points per game, tallied 21. Kimpling (12) and Harms (10) joined in double figures.

For Fieldcrest to stay within shouting distance in the HOIC, they must be able to win at home, a fact Winkler knows quite well.

“Extremely important and it’s extremely important to win early,” he commented. “There’s a lot of good teams in our conference. I think we’re going to be allowed one or two slip ups.”

Despite being taller, F-C only outrebounded the Knights 30 to 29. The Falcons were guilty of 27 fouls to 23 for Fieldcrest.

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