BASKETBALL: Cavaliers come back to beat Monarchs

The Central Valley Christian Cavaliers make a second-half comeback to defeat the Exeter Monarchs

EXETER – The CVC Cavaliers came back from behind to defeat the Exeter Monarchs 62-59.

The CVC Cavaliers started the game off slowly, letting the Monarchs run up an eight-point lead by the end of the first quarter. At halftime, they were still down by seven, but in the second half they turned it around. In the third quarter they quickly made up the difference and gained an eight point lead for themselves. Though Exeter made an attempt to come back, the Cavaliers held them off and won 62-59.

“At halftime we talked about being much more aggressive offensively and defensively,” CVC head coach Michael Hackbarth said. “We tried to push the ball a little bit more and I think that kind of opened stuff up and then we just got a little tight in the fourth quarter.”

The Monarchs came out fast and aggressive in the first half, running up their own score while containing the Cavaliers. The Cavaliers were setting up their offense well, they just weren’t making the shots they were taking. CVC had several opportunities to make up points with free throws, but besides the free throws, they only made one basket in the first quarter. At the end of the first they were down 17-9.

The second quarter was slightly better for the Cavaliers, they started making shots. They actually scored more points than the Monarchs in the second quarter, but they had a lot of points to make up, so they really turned it around in the third quarter.

The Cavaliers were a different team after halftime. They were the fast and aggressive team the Monarchs were in the first quarter. They scored 22 points in the third quarter and held the Monarchs to only seven. Junior Justin Stroud caused a turnover nearly every other time the Monarchs had possession of the ball.

“[Stroud] is part of that defensive core that we put on the most difficult offensive guy on the other team,” Hackbarth said.

Stroud covered freshman Aden Plyman for most of the game, who has become an essential starter for the Monarchs in just his first year. His ball-handling skills have been tough for other teams to handle, but the Cavaliers managed to contain him. Stroud was able to steal the ball right out of Plyman’s hands on several offensive plays. But playing against a defensive player like Stroud is essential development for a young player.

“[Plyman] is finally shooting the ball. He’s relaxed. He’s not so tense all the time,” Exeter head coach Eli Garver said. “They’re young. They have to learn how to win and develop and everything all at one time.”

The Cavaliers didn’t keep up their consistent offense and defense for all of the fourth quarter, allowing the Monarchs to close the gap in points. They were just five points down with a minute remaining and managed to hit an essential three-point shot, but with emotions running high, the Monarchs got into foul trouble and Stroud was awarded two free throws and made one of them. The clock ticked down and the Cavaliers’ hard work in the third quarter paid off.

“We were inconsistent at the beginning, turned it on and then at the end there kind of turned it off,” Hackbarth said. “We’ve gotta learn how to lock in for all 32 [minutes].”

This was the first meeting between the Cavaliers and the Monarchs this season. Now both teams have met all of their league opponents and will face all of them again before playoffs. After this game, CVC is 2-2 and third in the Tri-County Sequoia League while Exeter is 1-3 and fourth. Both teams will be looking to turn it around in the second round of league before meeting again just before playoffs.

CVC will face Reedley on Jan. 27 and Exeter will face Washington Union on Jan. 27.

Clarification: Exeter’s Aden Plyman was the game’s leading scorer on the night with 25 points. Clarification added 4:51 p.m. PDT

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