The Rock Valley Golden Eagles played at home against the Ancilla College Chargers in their Inaugural December Classic games at The Nest (PEC) on Friday night on December 2. The Golden Eagles were 0-1 since leaving the Thanksgiving Classic at a current record of 6-3 and the Chargers were at 5-1 record entering the game.
Malique Ross (2) led a good start to help RVC take the lead with two 3 pointers. Ancilla’s Gary Bonds (4) then dominated the court for a little over four minutes with a dunk, a 3 pointer, a basket, and a block. When RVC subbed in Jace Kitchen (23) there was noticeable production beginning to follow, but Ancilla’s Andrew Jones became a headache for the next four minutes with two 3 pointers and two baskets. With five minutes left in the half Elijah Pappas (11) and Alec Pena (45) were moving up and down the court well trying to disrupt the Chargers momentum also with two timeouts from RVC it was not enough to sway the score especially when Ancilla’s Jair Rodgers (30) would score before the timeouts were called. At the end of the half the score was 29-39 Ancilla leading.
For the first nine minutes the half the effort of closing in on the lead was back and forth with DeMari Davis (34) and Kitchen leading the offense with 9 points when a timeout was called at 11:30 and the score was 40-49. Right after the ten minute mark Ross dropped a 3 pointer and then Davis had a great rebound dunk to make it 46-52 (see video). For the next three minutes Pena took RVC on his back and scored 8 solid points (see video), his last basket occurred from a comical turnover when a Charger player threw it out of bounds.
Kitchen drew a foul with under three minutes left to go and on the next possession he dunked the ball to close in on the lead. Ancilla followed up with another missed layup, and Dalton Menke (25) had jumper go in eluding to a timeout with 12 seconds left in the game and the score was 63-65. RVC fouled and Ancilla got the 1 point. With 10 seconds left in the game, Ross sped down the court, looked for an open teammate, took the jump shot, and swished a 3 pointer to tie the game 66-66 with 2 seconds left (see video). Ancilla did not have any tricks up their sleeve yet. The buzzer went off and it was the end of the half, the score tied at 66-66, pushing the Golden Eagles and Chargers into overtime.
In the first minute, Ancilla owned the game with player numbers 2, 3 and 4 scoring a basket. Ross then for the next three minutes ran the court with a 3 pointer, a bucket, and 2 successful free throws. Menke also chipped in with a 3 pointer to make it 75-72. An Ancilla timeout was taken with 14 seconds left and the score was 76-74. The Charger’s Rodgers eluded a defender, got the ball, and took his 3 point shot that went in (see video). But the last 2 seconds were not enough for our Golden Eagles to make their own magic again. RVC lost 76-77 to Ancilla.
The Golden Eagles are now 6-4 in their games and play against Little Priest Tribal College Saturday at 3pm to wrap up the Inaugural December Classic at The Nest. RVC showed a lot of heart in this game by working as a team and chipping away at a 14 point deficit, turning the game into an overtime thriller. Basketball can rise and fall on the matchups on the court and the chess match of the game between coaches were how substitutions were handled. The Chargers had two big men in the paint and two excellent small forwards that were constantly subbed based on who RVC subbed in. Coach Lavery made key substitutions that brought the game in close with certain players. That was a difference maker but not enough in the end. As most Golden Eagles hope, Saturday will bring a much needed checkmate win to The Nest.