MOUNT CARMEL, Ill. -- In the night cap of a women's and men's basketball doubleheader, Wabash Valley College men's basketball remained in the driver's seat from start to finish on Wednesday night in their 87-59 home rout of Southeastern Illinois College.
Though many Warriors (5-2) contributed in the blowout victory, two stood out to coach Carpenter, sophomore Cam Gross and freshman Justin Boyd. Coach Carpenter feels their energy helped propel their imposing second half run.
"Cam and JB are two of those guys who are really doing a nice job of earning more minutes," coach Carpenter said. "It's hard when you've got 15 guys and they're all talented and I wish we could get them all equal time, but it doesn't all work out. These are prime examples of guys who've capitalized on their opportunity when they've been given playing time, they've done a nice job of earning more time."
They opened the first half strong, getting in transition early and often, one in particular on an emphatic dunk by sophomore Zion Morgan leading to a transition dunk by sophomore Josh Thomas to give the Warriors a 12-6 lead and getting the crowd energized.
Unfortunately they couldn't capitalize on a 17 point lead with under six minutes left in the half and let the Falcons linger in the game.
SIC reduced the deficit to 39-27 with four straight points to end the half. It looked as if Wabash Valley was set to add a bucket on at the end of the half, unfortunately Morgan had to make a mid air adjustment and missed an opportunity at the rim to score to end the half.
Statistically they dominated SIC in the first half, forcing the opposing Falcons to shoot just 27.3 percent from the field and forced 10 turnovers. WVC shot 42.5 percent from the field, turned it over just three times and were led in scoring by Thomas with eight points.
After a probable inspired halftime speech from Wabash Valley College men's head coach Mike Carpenter, opening the second half on a strong 8-0 run to expand their lead to 47-27. Also, coach Carpenter elected to start Boyd in the second half, it appeared to pay dividends, as Boyd would record two quick steals assisted WVC in adding eight second half steals.
"Coming out of the half, coach always preaches defense, in my head when he told me I was starting the second half," Boyd said. "I wanted to focus on defense, getting stops for the team, help get stops toward the end and help extend the game. Just coming into the second half I was thinking about defense, that was it."
With their defensive effort dialed up, they blew the game open. They increased their lead to as high as 29 before putting in reserves with the game well out of reach. Similarly to the women's game, the men's team also had the luxury of diving deep into their bench, giving players extended minutes that might not otherwise -- something that could benefit the Warriors down the stretch.
One eye opening difference between the two halves was the rebounding numbers. In the first half SIC outrebounded the lengthy Warriors 23-20 -- the second half was vastly different, however. The Warriors outrebounded the Falcons 33-9 in the second half, including 15 offensive rebounds. With players as long as some of the bigs the Warriors have, this should be an advantage they'll have most nights.
"Better, we did a better job of getting Levi, big Ant [Cameron] and Amir the ball inside," coach Carpenter said. "It's still a work in progress, but to have three 6'9 guys who are all big and strong is a commodity we need to take more advantage of. We'll show them on the film tomorrow that they're still times we're missing the guys posting up inside. It's going to make the guards jobs way easier if they throw it in to those big guys."
The victory marked the Warriors' fifth in six games since their opening night loss in the Three Rivers Classic against Mineral Area College. Coach Carpenter's group has overcome significant adversity since then, particularly the loss of sophomore returning leader Marcus Garrett in their second game of the season.
"It's been an adjustment losing Marcus like we did, but other guys like [Boyd and Gross] are stepping up and earning those minutes and the role the Marcus left. I think the chemistry's been good, we've got to tighten up and sharpen some things up as we face some of these better teams like John A. Logan on Saturday."
Their next challenge will come against conference foe John A. Logan in another doubleheader, this one at Logan. The men's game is set for Saturday, Dec. 1 at 3 p.m..