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Warriors earn share of EBC title
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By Carol McIntire
For the first time in over a decade, the Carrollton Warriors wear the Eastern Buckeye Conference (EBC) boys basketball crown.
Coach Mike Aukerman’s squad clinched the title with a 57-35 win at Minerva Friday and share the title with Alliance, who slipped past Marlington 52-49 Friday. The Warriors are Aviators split the season series and end the season with one loss each.
It was the 16th consecutive win for Carrollton, which is ranked No. 11 in the state Division II poll and sports a 19-2 overall mark (7-1 EBC) with one non-league game remaining on the schedule.
The win at Minerva came in front of a packed, rowdy gym and began with a 10-2 scoring streak that quickly disappeared as a determined, young Lions team closed the gap to 12-8 at the end of the quarter.
Midway through the second quarter junior guard Lincoln Mallarnee swished a 3-point shot from near the midcourt line that changed the face of the game and gave the Warriors an 18-11 lead. The Lions 6-5 junior forward Garrett Gonzalez answered with a 3-pointer before Warrior Cayden Rininger swished a long 3-pointer at the other end of the court, his only points of the night. The Warriors held the ball the final 1:13 of the second quarter to the dismay of Lions fans and put the ball in the hands of point guard Jaxon Rinkes who pulled up and fired a 3-pointer that swished through net for a 26-16 lead at halftime. The Lions maintained the 10-point difference through the third period before Carrollton outscored the hosts 19-7 for the win.
“These kids have worked tirelessly since April for a chance to cut down nets,” said Coach Mike Aukerman.
“We hope this is just the first of many. The kids believe, love playing together and are just flat-out winners. They always find a way to make the winning play.”
Rinkes led a trio of Warriors in double figures with 19 points. Cadyn Smith added 13 and Mallarnee 12. C. Smith (3), Mallarnee (2), Rinkes and Rininger hit on 3-point shots for Carrollton while Ryan Cassidy, Rowen Hoffee and Owen Shick hit for the Lions.
The visitors held a 25-21 advantage in rebounds with Rinkes and Mallarnee each snaring six.
Gonzales led the Lions with 15 points.
The Warriors returned to Carrollton where they celebrated the EBC title by cutting down the nets in the gym.
Junior varsity: Carrollton won 49-43.
Mallarnee went 13-15 at the foul line and scored 23 points as the Warriors defeated Sandy Valley 50-42 on senior night in the CHS gym Feb. 4.
Rinkes contributed 17 points, seven assists and six rebounds for the winners, who led 9-7 after the first period, tailed 26-23 at halftime and rallied in the third period to take a 35-35 lead into the fourth quarter.
Rinkes grabbed six rebounds to lead the Warriors, who held a 25-23 edge on the boards.
Wigfield sank four 3-point shots for Sandy Valley and ended the game with 15 points. Gillard added 13
Carrollton closes out the regular season Feb. 14 at Indian Valley.
The Lions rebounded from the loss to Carrollton with a 59-50 win over Heartland Christian Feb. 4. The Lions led 16-14 after one quarter, 28-25 at halftime and 45-37 after three quarters. Gonzalezled a trio of players in double figures with 20 points. Hoffee added 18 and Brandon Davis 10.
Hoffee scored on three 3-pointers, Gonzalez and Jayden Yerger on one.
Junior varsity: Minerva won 65-38.
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