The Terriers boys basketball team will not be the tallest, best-shooting or flashiest offensive juggernaut his season, but they sure can play defense.
The Terriers now have run off with four wins in a row. Defense, discipline and a lack of discipline by the host Alton Redbirds were all factors in the Terriers garnering four wins and technically winning the round-robin Alton Tournament last week.
In their first game, the Terriers beat Carnahan by 33 points, but were able to only score 61 in that win.
"Well, that has to be one of our strongest defensive efforts," Miller said after his team's 61-28 win over Carnahan Nov. 20. "Our offense needs work. Too much dribbling."
The Terriers came back with an even better defensive effort in their 39-29 win against O'Fallon Tuesday night, but players messing around with the ball resulted in an incredible 21 Carbondale turnovers -- enough to get most teams beaten badly. But oh, that defense!
"It was an offensive nightmare tonight," Miller said. "But our defensive effort and rebounding carried us."
Carbondale had 30 rebounds, and that helped give the Terriers a few more shots than O'Fallon. However, that game never seemed safe until the final few minutes. That's because the Terriers could not hit many of their free throws. In the last two minutes of the game, Carbondale players missed four free throws (two were top ends of one-and-ones) that would have sealed the game earlier.
But James Vaughn and Davaris Macklin hit a total of four in a row in the last 47 seconds to take a 35-29 Terrier lead to the final margin of 39-29. It was a struggle, but ultimately a win.
"The offense was awkward looking, but we played hard," Miller said. "But we still have so many weak links."
Leading the way in the win against O'Fallon was Macklin with 11 points, and his twin, Tavaris Macklin, had 14 points. Oddly, Tavaris Macklin's points were in the first half, and all of his brother's scores were in the second half.
A surprise contributor in the two wins was Cairo transfer guard Vaughn. His floor play, along with 12 points from new starter Thomas Anderson (12 points against Carnahan), helped the Terriers crush Carnahan in the second half.
"We're going to be undersized all year, so we half to hit the boards hard," Miller said. "But rebounding is mainly hustle and effort."
On Nov. 23, Carbondale beat South Seven foe Belleville Althoff 64-62 in overtime -- and then things got weird. The Terriers were scheduled to play Riverview High for their fourth game last Saturday, but in Riverview's game with host Alton later Friday night, both teams got into a bench-and-stands brawl that was so bad officials disqualified both teams, and gave both losses.
Thus, Carbondale got another win without even playing a game.
That Friday game was also weird in that it counted as a win in the Alton Tournament and South Seven Conference play. That's right, fans: CCHS was 4-0 and champ of the Alton Tourney without playing four games and is now leading the league at the end of November at 1-0!
Tonight, the Terriers continue South Seven play with an away contest against arch-rival Centralia. Your can hear the game call on WDBX 91.1 FM at about 7 p.m.