Eagles Shoot Down Falcons
Caldwell Academy made sure it was long night for the O'Neal boys basketball team thanks to some long-range shooting.
The Eagles (4-3) buried 11 three points to shoot down the Falcons (3-5) 53-46 Friday night.
"We hit three tonight," said Caldwell head coach Ray Salagle, "If we don't we lose."
The sharp-shooting spoiled a strong effort by O'Neal senior Stephen Clark. The 6-5 center, who averages more than 20 points per game, dominated the smaller front line of the Eagles to the tune of 26 points.
The teams entered the fourth quarter tied, 32-all, but the Eagles built a 44-36 lead with 5:29 remaining in the game on four three point baskets -- the final two coming from Michael Page.
Clark responded with seven straight points to cut the lead to 44-43 with 4:01 before Ewing Carter buried another three-pointer to push the Eagle lead to 47-43. Carter scored 11 of his team-high 23 in the fourth quarter.
O'Neal coach Casey Coleman credited Clark with playing well, but said his team didn't do a good job of getting the ball inside late in the fourth quarter.
"They got a couple of possessions ahead, and we panicked," Coleman said.
After Clark's final basket the Falcons went scoreless over the next 3:30, before Christopher Payton made a free throw and a layup in the final seconds. Payton scored 10 points and was the only other Falcons who scored double figures.
Salagle credited a defensive switch from man-to-man to zone for the scoring drought.
"I don't think they scored after we zone midway through the fourth quarter, and they only had two players score, so I thought we did a good job there," Salagle said.
Coleman said he was disappointed with his team's communication on the floor. He said the team didn't cover the open man on defense and allowed Caldwell too many open looks at the basket from behind the three-point arc.
"But you have to give a lot of credit to them for spreading us out and hitting some big shots from behind the (three-point) arc," Coleman said.
The Eagles secured the win by making six of eight free throws in the game's final 36 seconds.
O'Neal's largest lead was 21-16 midway through the second quarter after a rebound basket by Payton capped a 9-0 spurt.
Back-to-back layups by Michael McGowan and Clark gave the Falcons their only lead of the second half, 28-26 with 6:48 to play in the third quarter.
Matt Liebrann hit three three-points and scored 15 points for the Eagles, who did not make a two-point basket in the second half. Nine of the team's 10 final field goals were three-pointers.
The Falcons will host non-conference foe Cary Christian at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
Contact Tom Embrey at 693-2477 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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