After capturing 16 wins a season ago, Caston boys basketball coach Ben Snyder knew what he had coming back this year. The question would be, how could he replace what he lost?
With four-year starters Allen Russell and Trevor Hoover having moved on, the Comets undoubtedly would miss their trademark ball control, defensive pressure and leadership. Those absences have been reflected in the first three games, as Caston has struggled with its identity on both ends of the floor.
Securing its first win of the season was going to be a huge challenge, with a very long, athletic Carroll team coming in Friday night. The Comets have suffered five straight losses to the Cougars, with the last win coming in 2006 in double-overtime. Down by two at halftime, the Comets found their groove from long range in the second half and defeated the Cougars 51-44.
With a frontline of 6-7, 6-5 and 6-5, Carroll went inside early and often on the much smaller Comets. After leading 9-3 after the first period, the Cougars stretched the lead to 10 after a Seth Eldridge 3 with 5:17 left in the half. Fueled by pressure defense, Caston responded with a 11-0 run to take a 17-16 lead inside a minute to play, which included 3 three-pointers by senior Jake Howdeshell and another by Quentin Douglass.
Carroll took its final lead of the game in the third quarter on Eric Miller’s runner at the 4:28 mark. Caston fired back with another devastating 12-0 run. Howdeshell buried four more 3s in the period, and the Comets took their biggest lead of the night at 37-27 when Corey Moss hit a 3 under a minute to play.
Howdeshell finished the night with eight 3-pointers and a game-high 34 points.
“We talked about what we had to do in the locker room at halftime: take care of the ball and block out. Things just started clicking in the second half,” said Howdeshell.
A layup by Miller at the 5:54 mark brought Carroll to within four. He led the Cougars with 19 points. Moss struck again from long range off a feed from Daniel Scales, followed by a steal and layup from Howdeshell to stretch the lead back to nine just a minute later.
Turnovers by the Cougars down the stretch kept them from exposing their huge height advantage. The Comets also made good on their halftime goals, with only nine turnovers in the game and holding their own on the boards. After going 1 of 7 from 3-point range in the first period, the Comets hit 11 of 22 the rest of the way.
“Its definitely nice to be home," Snyder said. "We took care of the ball and started hitting shots. Alex Howdeshell and Daniel Scales set some great screens tonight, and that was the key.”
Caston (1-3) travels to Taylor tonight.