SYCAMORE — After trailing by as many as 14 points, Mohawk had all the momentum when it took a one-point lead late in the third quarter, but Bryan Powers and Jared Wentling turned the momentum back in favor of Carey and the Blue Devils were able to hold off the Warriors, 80-73, in a Midland Athletic League boys basketball opener Friday night.
Grant Ekleberry’s basket in the paint put the Warriors on top, 44-43, with less than two minutes remaining in the third quarter, but Mohawk’s lead was short-lived. Powers scored back-to-back baskets and after a Drew Loose bucket, Wentling scored six points in the final minute to give Carey a cushion again, 53-46.
Wentling paced the Blue Devils (2-0, 1-0 MAL) with 22 points. Justin Meek scored 18 points as one of five Carey players in double figures.
Loose scored 19 of his game-high 29 points in the fourth quarter.
“We just turned it around by making some big plays on the other end,” Carey coach C.J. Kin said. “Once again, the sophomores stepped it up really big again. Jared had some big shots.”
Wentling stepped outside and buried a 3-pointer and then scored a free throw with 13 seconds left. He then went coast-to-coast, laying it in after a missed Mohawk shot, just beating the third-quarter buzzer.
“While we were still in the game, that took a lot of wind out of our sails,” Mohawk coach John Arnold said.
Loose scored a basket to open the fourth quarter, but that was as close as the Warriors (0-2, 0-1 MAL) got the rest of the way. Wentling drained another shot from beyond the arc to give the Blue Devils a 60-50 lead and they eventually went back up by as much as 15 before Mohawk cut its deficit in the final two minutes by fouling and converting on offense.
Ekleberry finished with 17 points and Mitch Parker added 11 for the Warriors.
Carey led 38-24 with a minute left before halftime, but Mohawk cut its halftime deficit to 10 with a Darby Walton basket and Ekleberry score after a turnover when the Blue Devils were trying to hold for the last shot.
That momentum carried into the second half. The Warriors scored 10 straight points during a three-minute span to tie the game at 41 on an Ekleberry basket through contact. His free throw that could have put Mohawk on top was off the mark.
Meek finally ended the run with two free throws at the 2:20 mark before a Krupp free throw and then an Ekleberry basket after his own missed free throw gave the Warriors their first lead since the first quarter.
“These kids, they do a lot on momentum,” Arnold said. “That’s why we want to get them going, At halftime, we talked about smiling. That may sound weird from a coach, but when they smile, when they have fun, they feed on each other’s energy.”
Ultimately, it may have been an early 9-0 run that did in the Warriors. They trailed only 11-10 midway through a run-and-gun first quarter when Wentling had consecutive baskets, Meek connected for two and then Zach Boes drained a 3-pointer to quickly make it a 10-point game.
Carey’s lead ballooned to as much as 15 late in the second quarter.
“If it wasn’t for that run in the first quarter, I think we beat them,” Arnold said. “… What happened on that big run, it was just offensive boards. Our guys didn’t do a good job checking out early. We got better as the game went on. … Then we were giving up layups.”
Corbin Blair scored 11 of his 14 points in the first quarter for Carey. Boes had a double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds. He added four assists.
The Blue Devils rolled in the junior varsity game, 69-25. Nolan Roszman led all scorers with 21 points.
Carey hosts Colonel Crawford at 6 tonight. Mohawk next plays at 6 p.m. Thursday when it hosts Lakota.
By LONNIE McMILLAN
CAREY (2-0, 1-0 MAL): Wentling 8-4-22, Meek 5-8-18, Blair 6-2-14, Boes 5-0-11, Powers 4-3-11, Holsinger 1-0-2, Patton 1-0-2. Totals 30-61 17-29 80.
MOHAWK (0-2, 0-1 MAL): Loose 10-8-29, Ekleberry 7-0-17, Parker 5-0-11, Walton 4-0-8, Krupp 2-1-5, Johnson 1-0-3. Totals 29-58 9-14 73.
3-point goals: Ekleberry 3, Wentling 2, Boes, Parker, Loose, Johnson.
Score by quarters
Carey 22 16 15 27 — 80
Mohawk 12 16 18 27 — 73
Junior varsity: Carey won, 69-25.