Cardinal entered Tuesday’s Chagrin Valley Conference Valley Division showdown with defending league champion Hawken desperately needing a win and a strong second half performance.
The Huskies, who led by nine points entering the fourth quarter, nearly pulled off the upset but fell short, 67-64.
“We got to a point where we got a little tight because we had the lead and they had a little run on us,” said Cardinal coach Jon Cummins. “We just haven’t been in that situation enough times to be able to finish.”
Cardinal took a 22-18 lead and held a narrow 39-38 lead at halftime.
In two previous games this season, the Huskies struggled to come out of the locker room with the same intensity they played with in the first half. That wasn’t the case on Tuesday as they outscored the Hawks, 16-8, in the third quarter to push their lead to 55-46 with eight minutes left in the game.
“We actually played what’s really not the norm for us to have that good of a third quarter, in years past, it’s obviously a different year,” Cummins said. “We came out with the same enthusiasm and played a nice third quarter. We played great. The kids played very well and played together. We had the lead the whole game and in the fourth quarter it slowly slipped away.”
Cardinal’s fortunes changed significantly when Robbie Mulh fouled out midway through the fourth with a team-high 18 points.
Hawken’s Hugh Brown, who finished with a game-high 36, gave the Hawks the lead for good with less than a minute to play.
“Hugh Brown got a nice shot off,” Cummins said. “We played good defense on him; he just knocked it down.
Matt Carney’s game-tying 3-pointer missed the mark.
“The effort from each individual on the team, I was really proud of them, but I don’t believe in moral victories,” Cummins said. “That doesn’t do anything for me. It’s tough though because they played so hard and so well throughout the majority of the game to have a bad fourth quarter like that, at least offensively.”
Mulh also led the Huskies with 14 rebounds. Robbie Bruncak finished with 14 points and six rebounds while Carney also scored in double figures with 11 for the Huskies. Hayden Cummins scored eight points and pulled down 10 rebounds.
Cardinal travels to Independence on Friday.
“We’re playing better,” Coach Cummins said. “We played at the tempo I wanted to and with the defensive effort I wanted–good communication, talking, switching, rebounding–all the little things we need to do to win games. It just didn’t go our way in the fourth quarter. It’s tough when you’re 0-3 to keep kids motivated but as my assistant coach said, we have to turn that anger into Independence on Friday and find a way to win.”
Hawken 67, Cardinal 64
Hawken (1-0 CVC): Brown 36, Ross 10, Canitia 3, Clark 5, Ehrbar 3, Snyder 5, Perusek 5
Cardinal (0-3, 0-1 CVC): Mulh 18, Bruncak 14, Carney 11, Cummins 8, Hogue 3, Timas 4, Kosh 6
Hawken 18 20 8 21 — 67
Cardinal 22 17 16 9 — 64
Free throws: Hawken 5 of 10, Cardinal 9 of 15; 3-pointers: Hawken 12 (Brown 6, Ross 2, Canitia, Clark, Ehrbar, Perusek), Cardinal 9 (Bruncak 2, Carney, Hogue, Mulh 3, Kosh 2)