By Andres Reyes
The Cedar Valley Suns stole one from the Brookhaven College Bears Feb. 4 at a basketball game played away from the Bears’ den. In the end, the Suns proved too hot for our Brookhaven Bears, who ultimately lost the game 98-83. The Bears gained control of the court in the first half with a swarming defense and great pace on the offensive end of the floor.
At halftime the Bears were up by 10 points, 48-38. The second half proved to be the Bears’ downfall as the Suns picked up the pace.
Many free throws and scoring bursts later, the Suns finally gained a lead and kept it for good despite the Bears’ best efforts. The Bears dominated defensively during the first half. The energetic Bears yelled to each other on the defensive end of the court. Shaun Grant, #22, took shot after shot early and set the tone on both ends of the floor.
The Bears were cutting and double-teaming their opponents and set the tempo of the game, which resulted in costly turnovers for the Suns. Bears player Jaylon Cleveland, #3, established the early lead with a trio of three-pointers after a pull-up jump shot.
The Suns scored mini runs to keep the game close, but the Bears were poised to keep hold of their lead. As the Suns started executing more successful plays, their fans began to stir. The Suns’ crowd exploded every time their team inched forward, but the Bears held onto the lead with a score of 48-38.
“We just keep on doing what we are doing,” Brookhaven’s assistant coach Joe Wilson said at halftime. “We let them go on a few runs, but if we cut that out we’ll be perfectly fine … Just keep on attacking the basket. We settled for too many jump shots. We need to attack the rim.”
The Bears maintained the lead after the first half, but only for a moment. It wasn’t long before Cedar Valley player Christopher Owens, #5, started making aggressive plays. Slowly, the Suns were seizing control game.
The Suns gained their first lead of 59-58 from free throws, and the score bounced back and forth until the Suns started to capitalize on their lead. The Suns’ lead grew steadily after a slew of free throws and fast break points.
“We’ll drop to at least fourth tonight,” Brookhaven Bears head coach Kevin Hurst said. “We have got to not settle for jump shots. There was a stretch where we settled for jump shots way too much. We went through about a five-minute stretch where it seemed like there was a lid on the basket.”
The Bears attempted to wrestle back control from the Suns with small runs, like Cedar Valley had in the first half, shushing the crowd and keeping the opposing team at bay with every big bucket. “You’re going to go through cold stretches. It’s basketball,” Hurst said. “But what let us down in the second half was our defense.”