Finally, the Carbondale Terriers got to relax for a week after playing (and winning) a Friday night game.
For the last three weeks, the Terriers have had to play on Friday night and then jump on a bus to make a long trek for a Saturday game. But now, for the most part, the next 11 games will be once-a-week affairs. Tonight, the Terriers even get to have another home game when they meet Belleville Althoff for a second time. The Terriers eked out a 64-62 win in Belleville back in mid-November, and both teams are a bit different two months later.
"Belleville has improved quite a bit since then," Carbondale head coach Jim Miller noted. "But we are a different and much better team now than then, too. Since then, we've gotten several new players that help our depth."
But it's not just depth that has improved. The Terriers are now starting to into buy into Miller's basketball philosophy based on defense creating offense.
That philosophy was on full display last Friday night in Marion as the Terriers squashed a usually prolific Wildcat offense, holding Marion to a meager 34 points in a 12-point win (46-34 Carbondale, 4-2 South Seven record, 14-3 overall).
In fact, Marion star Jackson Connor was held to four points after scoring 36 points in one game of the Carbondale Holiday Tournament. The Terriers did a job on other Cat players, too.
"I thought we made an extra effort on Connor," Miller said. "We frustrated him, and our defense, collectively, was great against Marion in general."
In last Friday's win, the Terriers jumped to a 10-8 first-quarter lead starting with a Davaris Macklin three-pointer in Carbondale's first possession. But the Cats recovered from that initial blow to lower the Carbondale lead to just one point (22-21 Carbondale) at the halftime break.
That minute lead edged up to four points (29-25 Carbondale) after three quarters. But the Terriers busted it open in the last eight minutes of play, as they outscored the Wildcats 17-9.
"In the second half especially we followed the game plan to a T," Miller said. "Earlier we were giving Marion too many touches in the paint, but we adjusted well after the first two quarters of play."
That adjustment also helped the Terriers' offense, which ended up shooting 47 percent from the field. The Terriers shot 23 free throws, making 15 points from the line compared to two points for Marion. That differential resulted from the Carbondale passers finding their teammates on drives to the hoop.
"Offensively, we shared the ball well," Miller said. "No rogues on the team tonight. We were all on the same page."
Tavaris Macklin led the way in the win over Marion with 17 points. Clayton Greer had 12, and Tavaris' brother, Davaris, contributed 11 points.
The Terriers' home game with Althoff tonight starts at 7:30 p.m. and will be carried on 91.1 FM.