Friday night's Pioneer Valley Conference boys' basketball game between Caldwell and River was won by experience, according to both head coaches.
"We did the right things at the end," River head coach Mark Romick after watching his veteran Pilots post a gut-check, 55-51, triumph over the visiting Redskins (1-4) inside the R.L. Potts Gymnasium in Hannibal. "We put ourselves in a position to win. Their (Caldwell's) youthfulness hurt them a little bit."
The back-and-forth contest saw River (3-1) lead 19-17 after one period, but Caldwell held a 31-28 edge at the half. The Pilots caught fire in the third period, while the Redskins were ice-cold as the hosts led 40-33 with three minutes on the clock.
However, Caldwell rallied back and deadlocked the count at 40-all entering the final stanza.
Brett Price, who led all scorers in the game with 30 points, put the Pilots ahead 49-44 at the midway point of the fourth quarter with his sixth trey.
Caldwell stayed close on back-to-back baskets by Tanner Harding and Tanner Baker but, after a River timeout, Jordan Indermuhle rebounded a missed shot and banked home the ball while being fouled. His ensuing free throw bumped the count to 52-48.
Two charity tosses by the Redskins' Jonathan Wiechman made it a 52-50 game.
Following a River turnover, Wiechman sank the front end of a bonus situation to draw his team to within one, 52-51, with 42.1 seconds on the clock.
River's Chad Isaly was fouled with 28.8 remaining and calmly dropped in both ends of a 1-and-1 for a 54-51 lead. Indermuhle rebounded a missed shot and was shoved to the floor, which drew an intentional foul call and sealed the deal with 6.5 left. He hit one of two free throws for the final.
"They've been in those situations before, obviously," Caldwell's Clint Crane. "They are very experienced and probably will be the best team, besides Claymont, that we will play this season.
"We're really young with a freshman, three sophomores and a junior in the starting lineup," he continued.
"Games like this help us. I can take a lot of positives out of this game despite the loss. We can build on this game."
A key in the game for River was taking Wiechman, a 25-point per game scorer, completely out of the game offensively. He finished with 10 points, but only took five shots.
"Kam Brown did an excellent job of guarding him," Romick praised of his defensive standout. "We knew we had to stop him. He's a scorer and you just hope to contain him. Kam did an excellent job."
However, there were several aspects of the game that Romick wasn't pleased with.
"We've got some things that we have to solve and we haven't solved them yet. We left some guys wide open for shots and that is just not acceptable."
In addition to Price's game-high point total, Indermuhle tallied 10 and Cody Caldwell seven.
Harding led Caldwell with 13 points. Figel and Wiechman each netted 10.
Indermuhle pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds in leading River to a commanding, 47-21, advantage off the glass. Price grabbed nine.
Three different Redskins had four each.
The Pilots turned the ball over 21 times, six more than the Redskins.
River travels to Bridgeport Tuesday.
The Pilots completed the sweep with a victory in the JV game.
CALDWELL (51) - Wiechman 3 4-6 10; Harding 5 0-0 13; Figel 3 2-3 10; Clark 3 1-2 8; Leasure 0 0-2 0; Totals: 17-40 11-19. RIVER (55) - Price 12 0-0 30; Caldwell 3 0-0 7; J. Indermuhle 4 2-3 10; Isaly 0 2-4 2; Eggleston 0 0-0 0; Marconi 1 0-0 2; Dierkes 1 0-2 2; Brown 1 0-0 2; Totals: 22-43 4-9.
Three-Point Goals: Caldwell 6 (Harding 3, Figel 2, Clark); River 7 (Price 6, Caldwell)
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