• Keith Hjelle

Charger BB Teams Show Improvement, But Fall to Earlham in Close Games


Whether or not there is such a thing as a moral victory in athletics is up for debate. If marked improvement is a sign of a moral victory then the Charger basketball teams both experienced just that last night. But if you are one who settles only for a win, then both teams fell just sort of the goal. This writer prefers to think that a moral victory can be valuable for teams that are going through the seasons the local teams are experiencing. It can provide confidence and a desire to keep plugging away.

Back on December 14 the Charger teams traveled to Earlham and both got smacked in thirty four point losses to the Cardinals, with the girls falling 62-28 and the boys losing by a 74-40 score. Fast forward to last night and both of the ACGC teams battled to the end before falling 54-49 in the girls' game and 53-43 in the boys' contest.

The Cardinal girls came into town last night with a 12-5 record on the season and found themselves in a real battle with the 2-16 Chargers. The Chargers scored the first points of the game and held a 13-7 lead with two minutes to go in the opening frame, with five different players entering the scoring column. The Cardinals responded with five points in the last thirty seconds of the quarter to close the gap to 13-12. The second quarter remained tight, with three ties and four lead changes. Olivia Laabs knotted the score at 24-24 apiece when she nailed a three pointer near the end of the quarter.

The Chargers made only three of thirteen field goals in the third quarter and found themselves trailing 43-33 heading into the final eight minutes. ACGC closed the gap to five points when Genevieve Hoover scored consecutive five points to make the score 49-44. A three point play by Savana Fuller made it 52-47 with two minutes remaining, but ACGC missed its next six shots. The Cardinals failed to score as well, and a free throw by Hoover closed the gap to four points at 52-48 with one minute to go. That was as close as the Chargers got. Earlham made only two of seven free throws in the final minute of play, but the Chargers couldn't capitalize on the Cardinal miscues.

Despite the loss ACGC was competitive to the end against a respectable opponent. Fuller led the Charger scoring with 13 points and also pulled down 9 rebounds. Laabs also had 9 rebounds and netted 8 points. Genevieve Hoover had 6 offensive rebounds. Sierra O'Brien scored 8 points as well, while Jorga Hoover led in assists with four. ACGC turned the ball over twenty times--an improvement, but turnovers are always costly. As a team the girls shot 27% from the field on 15 makes out of 55 tries and made 12 of 20 free throws for 60%.

Coach Aaron Dose had some positive comments following the game when he said, "I was proud of the girls. They are starting to make great decisions in key moments. I'm excited to take this momentum into Van Meter on Friday. Confidence goes a long ways for us. We just need to hit a few more shots late in games."

Although the boys lost by ten points, the game was closer than that. The three point shot produced all of the Charger points in the first quarter with Quynton Younker, Quenton Spack, and Bryce Littler all connecting on treys. The quarter ended with the Cardianls leading 13-9. After the Cardinals stretched the lead to ten late in the second quarter, Collin Stowe and Younker each scored to close out the half with the Cardinals leading 26-20.

Points were hard to come by for either team after intermission, as the Chargers outscored the Cardinals 7-4 in the third quarter to trial by three points at 30-27. The final quarter was unusual to say the least. Both teams picked up the offense, with Earlham scoring 23 points while ACGC netted 16. What is unusual is that the Cardinals made only one field goal in the quarter and twenty one free throws! They attempted only three shots in the final eight minutes.

The game remained tight early in the quarter when Younker made a three point play to knot the score at 30-30. With two and a half minutes remaining the Chargers were still within striking distance at 40-35 when Stowe made two free throws. At that point ACGC was forced to foul to stop the clock and hope that Earlham would miss at the free throw line. They didn't miss very many. Over the last two minutes of the game the Cardinals made 12 of 15 free throws to clinch the victory.

Younker was the only Charger in double figures with 12 points, while Littler and Caden Wardyn each scored 8. The trio of Littler, Wardyn and Spack each hauled down 6 rebounds, with Littler recording 4 assists. The team shot 39% from the floor, making 14 of 36 attemps and hit on 10 of 16 free throws for 63%. Twenty team turnovers resulted in fifteen Cardinal points.

Charger coach Jake Mohling saw both positive and negative in the outcome. "Last night was a rough finish because I thought we had them. We didn't really play that well with shooting at thirty nine percent, along with twenty turnovers and only eight assists. And yet we were within striking distance. I think our defense did that for us. Their free throws at the end of the game were the difference and we missed too many late in the game to give ourselves a shot. It was good experience though. If we can play like this, I am confident we can beat some teams in our remaining games."

Friday the Charger teams travel to Van Meter to face the Bulldogs, with the girls' game to begin at 6 PM. The regular season comes to a close next Tuesday, Feb. 6 when Woodward-Granger comes to town.

Girls' score by quarter Boys' score by quarter

Earl 12 12 19 11-54 Earl 13 13 4 23--53

ACGC 13 11 9 16-49 ACGC 9 11 7 16--43

Box score REB Box score REB

FG 3Pt FT O-D AST STL TP FG 3Pt FT O-D AST STL TP

Fuller 5-7 1-2 2-4 3-6 1 2 13 Nelson 1-4 0-1 3-4 0-0 2 0 5

Laabs 3-13 2-6 0-0 4-5 1 0 8 Spack 2-6 2-5 0-0 0-6 1 1 6

Smith 2-9 0-4 0-0 2-0 1 1 4 Byars 0-0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

Embl'ton 0-0 0-0 0-0 0-1 0 0 0 Wheatley 0-0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

JHoover 1-5 1-3 2-2 3-3 4 1 5 Littler 3-7 2-4 0-2 1-5 4 0 8

O'Brien 2-10 2-6 2-2 1-3 1 0 8 Wardyn 3-9 0-0 2-5 1-5 1 2 8

KeYoung 0-1 0-0 0-0 1-1 0 0 0 Younker 4-7 1-4 3-3 0-4 0 1 12

Carrick 1-6 0-1 3-8 2-3 2 2 5 Stowe 1-3 0-0 0-2 3-2 0 1 4

GHoover 1-3 1-2 3-4 6-1 2 1 6


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