The Cavaliers used a 16-2 run to close out their battle with Waverly Friday night for a 67-54 season opening victory.
A sigh of relief came after the game as new Head Coach Eric Huffer won in his debut for the Cavs. “We did not run our sets very effectively” said Huffer. But the defense stepped up to the challenge in the fourth period. “I knew Waverly was going to present us with some stuff… That misdirection play. That really killed us”.
But, a win is a win, and for a team that spent most of its camp on defense, it proved to be the strong suit of the Cavalier opener.
“Offense will come” said Huffer. “Most of our points were off of defensive turnovers or, mistakes honestly.”
Four Cavaliers scored in double figures, led by Tommy Bolte’s 20 points. Eddie Wells knocked down 14 second half points to finish with 15, Nolan Taylor added 13 and Nate Rosenbauer tallied 11.
Waverly used the three-ball to create a bit of separation in the 2nd and 4th quarters, paced by Aaron Heibel’s 30 points. The Tiger senior forward drained 5-of-12 threes on the night, but went cold late as Chillicothe built a double-figure lead in the final period.
The Cavs raced out to a 19-14 lead after the first 8 minutes, but lost some defensive intensity in the second period. “The first quarter we came out ready, got our hands in the passing lane” said Eddie Wells “Second quarter we started getting’ tired.” Wells said the Cavs made their mental adjustments at halftime. “At halftime, the coaches came in and talked to us and told us that we need to come out hot in the third quarter. That’s what we did.”
“I liked our energy at the beginning of the game” said Huffer. “I thought the defensive intensity was there… I felt like we were getting lazy… wasn’t talking on defense.”
The Cavs’ defensive goal is to limit their opponents to 8-to 10 points per quarter. “We have got to get better… if they (Waverly) score 67 points, we’re not going to win.”
Freshman Jordan Johnson made a defensive stance on Jake Henderson to deny Waverly a chance to take a 3-point lead at halftime. “That picked us up a lot” Isaiah Johnson said of his little brother’s play. ”Being down by one was a way bigger deal than by three because we got the ball back, went down and scored at the start of the third quarter.”
Chillicothe hit its first three buckets to start the second half for a 36-31 lead and finished the quarter sinking a three pointer and seven field goals from inside the arc for 8-for-8. But just as quickly as the Cavs took the lead, Waverly turned the tables to jump ahead 41-40. Chillicothe regained the lead as time expired 47-43.
Waverly tied the game at 48 on a Pierce Knisley 3-point play. The Tigers managed a 52-51 advantage with four minutes remaining.
That’s when Chillicothe turned up the heat and capitalized as Waverly went cold from the field.
The Cavs shot 59% from the field and nailed 12-of-17 free throws in their 13-point win which snapped a two game losing streak to the Tigers.
Chillicothe will host Groveport Tuesday night at Hatton Memorial Gymnasium. Coverage on WBEX (1490am/92.7fm and iheartradio) begins around 7:30pm.