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Evansville topples Edgerton to tighten Rock race

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JOHN N. BARRY
January 22, 2008
— Don’t count out the two-time defending Rock Valley champions just yet.

Evansville High’s boys basketball team got right back into the thick of the conference race Tuesday night.


Andrew Keister and Eric Nieman scored 14 points apiece as the Blue Devils stunned third-ranked and previously unbeaten Edgerton, 54-42.


Evansville (7-2), along with Orfordville Parkview (7-2), moved within a half-game of Edgerton (7-1) and denied the Crimson Tide an excellent opportunity to a get stranglehold on its first Rock Valley title since the 2003-04 season. It also allowed the Blue Devils to split the season series with the Tide.


Edgerton (12-1) turned an early 10-point deficit into a two-point halftime lead, but the Tide had no answer for Keister down the stretch. The 6-foot-1 junior guard, a first-team all-conference selection a year ago, scored eight straight points in the fourth quarter to help turn a six-point lead into 12.


Keister’s two free throws with 53 seconds left pushed the lead to 52-40 and took any wind out of the Crimson Tide sails.


“It came down to playing smart basketball as a team because we knew we had to win to still have a chance at a conference title,” Keister said. “A lot of different guys stepped up when we needed it, and that’s been the key lately for us.”


Edgerton trailed by seven after the third quarter and got no closer than five in the fourth following Aaron Laskowski’s free throw with 3:25 to play. Keister followed with a pair of free throws to push the lead to seven, and followed it up with back-to-back driving layups to seal Edgerton’s fate.


The Crimson Tide struggled from the field the entire game. The Tide was 13-for-45 shooting, including a woeful 3-for-14 in the fourth.


Junior Bryan Gregory, who came into the game averaging a league-leading 21.4 points per game, was held to 13. The 6-4 Gregory was double- and triple-teamed most of the night in attempting only 11 field goals.


Edgerton coach Mark Wanless said his team’s struggles on the offensive end were a combination of an off-night in shooting and Evansville’s defense.


“Evansville played extremely good defense tonight, just like they did at Orfordville last Thursday,” Wanless said. “They played to their strengths real well.


“Bryan got some good looks, but some shots that normally fall didn’t fall tonight. But Bryan wasn’t the only one. We didn’t shoot the ball very well as a team.”


Evansville didn’t shoot particularly well, either. The Blue Devils were 17-for-45 from the field, but made up for on the defensive end. Edgerton came in averaging better than 60 points per game, but other than a short spurt in the second quarter, never got into any rhythm offensively.


Evansville coach Chris Wagner called it a typical Edgerton/Evansville battle.


“We know that whenever we play each other, somebody is going to get up early, and somebody is going to make a run to get back in it,” Wagner said. “And that’s what happened again tonight.


“We knew Edgerton was too good to not come back after we jumped ahead in the first quarter. Fortunately, I think our depth made a big difference down the stretch.”


A difference that could make for a very interesting final three weeks of the Rock Valley race.



EVANSVILLE 54, EDGERTON 42


Edgerton (42)—Laskowski, 0-6-6; Carrier, 2-0-5; Towns, 2-2-6; Gregory, 6-1-13; Mitchell, 3-4-10; Eastman, 0-2-2. Totals: 13-15-42.


Evansville (54)—Kremer, 3-1-9; Keister, 5-4-14; McElroy, 4-3-12; Nieman, 4-6-14; Diedrich, 1-1-3; Deininger, 0-2-2. Totals: 17-17-54.


Edgerton 10 14 8 10—42


Evansville 20 2 17 15—54


Three-point goals—Edgerton 1 (Carrier), Evansville 3 (Kremer 2, McElroy). Free throws missed—Edgerton 1, Evansville 9. Total fouls—Edgerton 19, Evansville 15.



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