Eagles win it from the line

By James Evans

In a game that saw more than 40 personal fouls, the South Hunterdon Eagles (6-1) prevailed over the Del Val Terriers (0-4), 62-54, on Tuesday night. With a bevy of points coming from the foul line, junior Brennan Carey led the way with 19 points (9-12 free throws), and senior Devon Troutman added 12 points (6-8 FTs).

The Eagles jumped out to a 29-22 lead after one half, with Carey scoring nine in the opening 16 minutes. However, the Eagles were not able to match a much quicker scoring pace in the second half, which was started with a combined 14 points in the opening 90 seconds after the break. This enabled the Terriers to pull within a 38-37 margin at the end of the third quarter. However, the Eagles, who had every one of their active players shoot free throws, shot a combined 60 percent (26-43) to pull them to a victory.

Averaging out to almost five free throws per active player, the Eagles needed to stay focused to get the win. Carey remarked on his “same foul shot routine” and jokingly said that he focuses “solely on trying not to airball it.” And with free throws always comes opportunities for boards, and four South players had more than five rebounds apiece.

Senior center John Conlon has averaged nearly six boards per game during the Eagles’ recent three-game winning streak. He had eight Tuesday. When asked about his recent uptick in performance, Conlon said, “We just need to stay physical as individuals and as a basketball team. Team efforts are what get rebounds.”

Second to Conlon in rebounds in the win was junior Tyler Frazee, who had four points and seven boards, playing some of his best basketball all season. “I just don’t let them push me around out there and I stay as physical as I can,” said Frazee, who could be measured 6-feet tall if someone was awfully generous. But the height difference didn’t stop the guard, as he outrebounded some of the Terriers’ players who stood five or six inches taller than he.

One of those long, tall players for Del Val was forward Josh Christ, who is the Terriers’ predominant scorer this season. Junior guard Josh Phillips was tasked to contain the athletic Christ, and Phillips collected five boards and four steals in his efforts. “I play with my feet and not my hands,” said Phillips on his defensive play.

Improving to 3-1 in the absence of senior guard Jake Whitaker, the Eagles look to get their predominant scorer back on Saturday against the George School at home. Until then, they will play at least one more game without him, as the Eagles will take on the Manville Mustangs (2-2) on Thursday night to complete their three-game road stand.