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Eisenhower regroups for win over Maize South

Published Feb. 25 at 11:31 p.m. | Last updated Feb. 25 at 11:33 p.m.

There’s enough talent on the Eisenhower roster to pick up a win anytime things go right. Things didn’t go well at all Tuesday night at Maize South, but the Eisenhower boys found a way to claim a 76-65 win and the Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail Division II title anyway.

Starting center Matt Morris spent most of the night on the bench in foul trouble, leaving Maize South’s 6-foot-9 center, Brett Barney, free to post a game-high 28 points. Morris entered the fourth quarter with just 2 points.

Starting guard Daniel Southworth picked up four fouls in the first five minutes of the second half to join Morris on the bench.

The tightly-called game played into Maize South’s advantage and left Eisenhower scrambling on several occasions.

“It took away some of our defensive strategy,” coach Steve Blue said. “But we adjusted. We had to adjust. We like to play a physical defense, and we couldn’t do that. But we were still able to get the rebounds, and that was important tonight.”

Though the 6-foot-6 Morris played only 11 of the game’s 32 minutes, help came in the form of Tyler Buchanan and Matt Pile. The two forwards combined to match Barney’s 28 points.

“I was very proud of them,” Morris said. “I told Tyler at halftime he was going to have to step in and fill the spot, and he had a heck of a game.”

Buchanan scored 17 of his 23 points in the second half. Eisenhower’s top scoring threat, senior Trevon Evans, also had just six points at halftime but finished with 14.

“It wasn’t an easy game, and we knew it was going to be like that,” Evans said. “We like to play in-your-face defense, and when we can’t do that it gets hard on us.”

Southworth and fellow starting guard Bailey Strunk each scored 10 points and also helped gain an advantage in rebounds despite Morris’ absence for much of the game.

Barney tied the game at 23 late in the second quarter, but Southworth responded with one of his two 3-pointers to reclaim the lead. The two league rivals matched each other with 15 points apiece in the third quarter, but Eisenhower exploded for 30 fourth-quarter points with Morris back in the game. Before fouling out with 41 seconds left, Morris scored 9 of his 11 points in the final eight minutes.

Maize South got a fourth-quarter spark from guard Payten Ricks, who tallied 17 in the fourth quarter. Ricks scored on four consecutive possessions midway through the fourth to bring Maize South to within six points, but Morris converted a three-point play after grabbing an offensive rebound from a missed 3-pointer.

Ricks finished with 23 points and combined with Barney to contribute 51 of the team’s 65 points.

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Eisenhower: T. Evans 14, D. Southworth 10, B. Stemple 3, B. Strunk 10, T. Buchanan 23, M. Pile 5, M. Morris 11.

Maize South: H. Pentecost 2, P. Ricks 23, L. Mormando 4, K. Kordonowy 7, B. Barney 28, A. Martin 1.

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