Posted on: February 26, 2023 Posted by: Glacier Staff Comments: 0

Photo by Aidan McGuire

Sophomore forward Taijon Barry goes for a shot in Tuesday’s game against Morton College.

By Aidan McGuire, News Editor

After a thrilling week, the MV men’s basketball team beat rival Prairie State 95-75 on Thursday to win the conference championship.

Photo by Aidan McGuire
Sophomore forward Taijon Barry clings onto the rim in Tuesday’s game.

With Prairie State as their only conference loss, the Cyclones were looking for redemption. But the stakes were even higher, as the Pioneers were also vying for the Skyway conference title. If the Pioneers had won Thursday’s game and then won their final game Saturday, they would have been co-champions.

But the convincing win Thursday against the Pioneers on their home turf left the Cyclones as outright champions, their first championship since the 2019-20 season.

Earlier in the week, the Cyclones went head-to-head against the Morton College Panthers in one of the most pivotal games of the season. The Fitrec was filled with spectators buzzing excitedly in the bleachers as the players took the court. 

Head coach John Chappetto stressed that this game was very important for the team but that securing the victory would be challenging, as he acknowledged the Panthers’ skill. 

“We don’t give up. We have a lot of fight,” Chappetto said.

In the end, after being down for more than half the game, the Cyclones rose to the occasion and won 87-75.

The Cyclones had a rough start to what ended up being a winning game. In the first half,  Moraine suffered from two technical fouls, which opened up an opportunity for the Panthers to gain a considerable lead. And with teams of this skill, every point matters and could make a difference in the end.

About halfway through the first half, the Panthers had a 12-point lead with a score of 30-18. But the Cyclones began to fight back near the end of the first half. Trace Williams scored two three-pointers and a layup seconds before the buzzer, bringing the score to 53-45 at halftime. 

In the second half of Tuesday’s game, the Cyclones walked back onto the court with newfound motivation. 

“We really turned it into our game in the second half. We played really good defense and were able to get out and run and get easy baskets,”  Chappetto said.

The game was neck-and-neck the entire half, with a score of 71-71 in the final three minutes. But soon after the momentary tie, the Cyclones blazed ahead thanks to a basket from Taijon Barry. 

In the final seconds of the game, guard Javonte McKenzie shot a three-pointer.

“It made it a winning game for us, it was a winning shot,” said Chappetto.

After this point, it was smooth sailing until the buzzer radiated throughout the gym.

Just two days later, the Cyclones walked onto the court at Prairie State for the biggest game of the year. Moraine’s offense, led by Kobe Adams, dominated the first half 47-31. The Pioneers tried to come back in the second half, but the Cyclones still outscored them 48-44 for a final score of 95-75.

Leading scorers for the Cyclones were Adams (20), Enari Thomas (18) and Anthony Taylor (16 points, 10 rebounds). Williams and McKenzie both had another good game, Williams with 12 rebounds and 10 points, and McKenzie with 12 points, four steals and three blocks.

The Cyclones will advance to region playoffs on Thursday.