SAWMILLS - It's been a rough season for the South Caldwell Spartans, and at 2-19 on the season, they are at the point of trying to play the spoiler role.
For about one half Friday night, they assumed that role against the McDowell Titans. But that’s where it all ended as a dominant, second-half effort by McDowell resulted in an 83-63 win down in Sawmills.
Since a rough 35-point loss at Hickory two weeks, ago McDowell (18-4 overall, 10-2 NW 3A/4A) has responded well by now winning four contests in a row, remaining in a second-place tie with Freedom and just a game behind Hickory going into the last week of the regular season. Regardless of what happens in the last two games of the regular season, the Titans will finish no worse than third overall.
While McDowell led wire-to-wire against the last place Spartans (2-19, 1-11), it wasn’t an easy road to hold through at least the first half, which is something that has been common between these two foes in past games on South Caldwell’s home court.
The Titans had a lead of 10 points only once in the first half and were in front by just six points (31-25) at the break. It was in the second half where McDowell took command, outscoring South 52-38 after the break. While the Titans made a total of eight long-range shots in the game, it was their focus inside at the start of the second half that the Spartans had no answer for.
Travis Corpening (8 rebounds, 2 blocks) came out very assertive at the start of the second half, scoring 13 of his game-high 24 points in the third quarter to push the Titans' lead into double figures for good. Corpening continued his impressive play down the stretch, posting 20 or more points in his last four games. Corpening’s conventional three-point play at the 6:33 mark in the third made it 38-27 when he scored on a baseline throw-in play off a Kevin Silver assist.
Nearly four minutes later Corpening replicated the effort, this time scoring off a J.C. Olivo inbounds along the baseline with 2:54 left, making it 51-37 at the time.
McDowell enjoyed its first 20-point lead of the night late in the third quarter and then went up 60-44 going into the fourth. The Titans blew it open with a 19-5 spurt over five-plus minutes. Silver made his last 3 of the night at around three minutes left, making it 79-49 and then, seconds later, the starters' nights were done.
Silver (3 assists, 2 steals) finished with 15 points, Olivo had 13 points off the bench and Antoine Lindsey (5 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 assists) added 12 points to give McDowell four players in double figures.
Skyler McKinney (8 points, 12 rebounds, 9 assists, 5 blocks), while just missing out on double figures in scoring, was a big part of the Titans effort anyway.
Caden Davis had five points and Dylan McRary, along with Andruw Randolph and Andrew Davis, scored two points apiece.
The Spartans were led by 11 points each from Kaden Anderson and Colby Collins.
McDowell remains on the road for its last two games of the regular season beginning Tuesday at West Caldwell.