By ROGER THOMAS
---- — BUSSEY — The Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont Rockets had their best offensive game of the season, but it wasn't enough as the Sabers held on for the 73-66 non-conference boys’ basketball win Monday night in Bussey.
The Rockets placed three players in double figures, led by Trevor Swartz's incredible 42-point effort. The Sabers had two players in double figures, but had more complementary players contributing to the outcome.
The first quarter was high scoring and close throughout. Twin Cedars jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead before Swartz hit the first of his eight 3-pointers on the night.
Otis Roby’s old-fashioned three-point play put the Sabers up 13-8. Again Swartz answered with a 3-pointer and hit a third later in the quarter to pull EBF within 15-14. Rocket freshman Peyton Walker buried his second trey to give the Rockets their first lead of the night at 17-15.
Dylan Springer scored for Twin Cedars to tie it. Roby’s two free throws were offset by Swartz scoring the final five EBF points of the first quarter to give the Rockets a 22-19 lead.
It was evident throughout the opening quarter that fouls and the free throws were going to be critical. EBF had at least two starters pick up two fouls in the opening minutes, leading to eight charity shots for the Sabers in the opening quarter.
Seven of those Saber free throws belonged to Roby, who would continue to attack the basket and have 13 attempts from the foul line by halftime. Roby would finish the night with 21 free throw attempts.
While that might seem like a lot for one guy, Roby has had as many as 28 attempts in a game just a couple of weeks ago.
“I've been getting to the basket a lot lately and when they started in man (defense), I looked for that,” said Roby. “Our offense can score in a couple different ways and I think attacking is part of that.”
The second quarter really hurt the Rockets. After a big 22-point output in the first, they would score only six in the second.
“The foul trouble we had bothered us at both ends of the floor, but it was really noticeable when Jevin (Jensen) was on the bench,” said EBF coach Travis Stout. “In our offense, he can get it to the rim from the wing and we need that.”
In between the whistles, the Sabers regained the lead and built a 34-28 lead that they would take to the locker room. Roby again led the Sabers in scoring with seven, including five trips to the line.
The whistles continued to interrupt play in the third quarter, but somehow the teams played another competitive and fairly high scoring eight minutes. EBF would win the quarter, 21-19, and cut the Saber lead to four entering the fourth.
Springer scored for the Sabers to open the third. After missing four early games due to injury, the senior seemed to be playing possessed to make up for lost time.
Already with two consistent quarters in the book, Springer added five points, three rebounds, two assists, a block and a few altered shots to his line in the third.
“I try and not do too much,” said Springer. “It helps if I can contribute in the areas, that’s what a good post player needs to do.”
"He really makes our offense better,” said Twin Cedars coach Alan Stewart said of Springer. “He gives us a real post presence.”
Jensen, before picking up another foul, scored the first five points for the Rockets after the break. The Sabers used a 9-0 run to lead 47-33 at the midpoint of the third.
The Sabers still led 53-41 with just over two minutes to go in the quarter. EBF closed the third with an 8-0 run to pull within 53-49. Swartz had seven of those eight points and closed out with 13 points in the third.
“I just think we had a good combination of guys in the game at the time,” said Stout. “Our defense helped us pick up a couple of run-out scores.”
The run wasn’t over. The Rockets tied it at 53 just a minute into the final quarter.
“That was really frustrating to give up the lead, but we had to protect a couple of guys with fouls,” said Stewart.
Then came the two biggest shots of the game. Hunter Embray, who spent the whole night trying to contain Swartz, hit a two and followed it up with a 3-pointer to put the Sabers back up 58-53.
“My first concern was trying to guard Trevor (Swartz),” said Embray. “When the shots came to me, I felt like with the group we had on the floor that I had to step up and hit a shot.”
The lead grew to 60-53 before the Rockets closed the gap. Swartz answered with a 3-pointer and a conventional three-point play to pull the Rockets within 62-59 with just under three minutes to play.
“Trevor did a good job of giving it up and getting it back to help get good looks,” said Stout.
After Embray's big baskets, Springer and Roby combined for nine points to hold off the visitors. Even though the Sabers hurt themselves by only converting 19 of 38 attempts from the line, they would hit their final seven to ice the win.
“We just kept telling our guys that one guy couldn’t beat five,” said Stewart.
Both teams were slated to be back in action Tuesday as the Rockets (2-7) hosted Fairfield while the Sabers (7-4) rode a four-game winning streak into Bluegrass action against Melcher-Dallas as the Courier went to press. Twin Cedars will host Orient-Macksburg on Friday while EBF takes on Davis County in South Central Conference action.
TWIN CEDARS 73, EDDYVILLE-BLAKESBURG-FREMONT 66
EBF 22 6 21 17 – 66
TC 19 15 19 19 – 73
EBF (66) – Jevin Jensen 12, Peyton Walker 11, Trevor Swartz 42, Evan Heinle 1. Totals 23-60 9-13 66.
3-point goals – 11-24 (Swartz 8, Walker 3). Fouled out – Tanner Allen . Rebounds – 31 (Jensen 7). Assists – 6 (Walker 3). Steals – 7 (Walker 3, Swartz 3). Blocks – 3 (Jensen, Allen, Jordan Hawk). Total fouls – 28. Turnovers – 11.
TC (73) – Garrett Pettyjohn 3, Brent Parker 6, Coy Moore 5, Hunter Embray 8, Dylan Springer 19, Otis Roby 27, Cam Arkema 3, Trenton Bacus 2. Totals 25-53 19-38 73.
3-point goals – 4-16 (Pettyjohn, Moore, Embray, Arkema). Fouled out – none. Rebounds – 38 (Springer 10). Assists – 15 (Embray 4, Roby 4). Steals – 1 (Embray). Blocks – 6 (Springer 4). Total fouls – 15. Turnovers – 16.