CUMBERLAND – Every game is important for head coach Gary Reedy and his Cumberland High squad, but Tuesday’s Division II crossover matchup with host Barrington could have been listed under the must-win category.
The Clippers and Eagles each went into the contest with matching 6-3 league marks, putting them just two victories away from a berth in the open state tournament in March. For Cumberland, it also has the strongest part of its schedule the remaining eight games so a win would certainly give it some added momentum.
Spurred by a defense that limited the Eagles to just 20 points the final 26:45 of the contest, the Clippers managed to put a smile on their coach as he walked off the court at the Wellness Center with a satisfying 49-37 victory.
Cumberland maintained its position atop the II-North standings with the outcome, while Barrington sits at 6-4 and second place in II-East.
“Now we got the toughest part of our schedule the next two weeks, I am very happy,” said Reedy, whose Clippers travel to II-East leader Rogers (9-1) on Thursday, followed by second-place II-Central squad Shea next Tuesday. “Our kids played great defense. It was all about the defense.”
It was all about offense for Barrington in the game’s first five minutes. The Eagles hit nearly everything it tossed up during the span and took a 17-9 lead. Freshman Corey Daugherty (15 points) had the hottest hand in the stretch with eight points, including a pair of 3-pointers.
“They shot the lights out,” Reedy said. “They shot probably about 85 percent. They hit their first eight out of 10 shots and that was it.”
The Clippers, who appeared to be a step behind the Eagles in the initial part of the half, began to buckle down and suddenly started to shift the momentum. After the Eagles took their eight-point advantage, Cumberland responded with eight unanswered points, including a trio from senior Ben Proctor (five points), who was back in the lineup for only the second game of the season after an ankle injury.
The Clippers tied the game at 22 on a 3-pointer from junior Ben Bradley (10 points) and went into the locker room trailing by just a deuce, at 24-22.
Tied at 30 midway into the second half, Cumberland took the lead for good on a layup from senior Dylan Bosclair (15 points) off a pin-point pass from senior Chris Antunes near the top of the key.
Senior Tyler Diedrich, who finished with 11 points for the night, increased the Clippers’ lead to 39-30 with 3:52 left on the clock with five quick points. Diedrich nailed a 3-pointer and less than 20 seconds later cut through the Eagles’ defense with a big layup.
Barrington could never recover the remainder of the game.
Reedy praised the effort of Antunes, who shut down Daugherty after his hot beginning.
“Antunes sparked (the win). There is no question about it,” he said. “He gave us the lift we needed. He was the one. He shut down (Daugherty). Once he took (Daugherty) out of the game, they were out of their rhythm.”
Cumberland will now begin its tough stretch with its contest against the Vikings on Thursday. The Clippers are also starting to get healthy after missing several of their players to injuries throughout the season.
“These kids like each other and they are working hard,” Reedy said. “They come in and they work hard every day. They don’t say much. They are pretty quiet…The guys are still running their roles, but they are running their roles better because of all the injuries we had. In the end, we are going to gain depth.”