The Sandy Valley Cardinals basketball team hopped on the big yellow school bus on Dec. 11 and made the trek across town to visit IVC rival Malvern.
The story of the game came on the size of the Hornets and their ability to dominate the boards as Sandy Valley was without their star big man Zach Schlimm. Malvern out rebounded the Cardinals 54-16 and that was all they needed in a 73-41 thrashing of Sandy Valley.
"I was very proud of our kids," said Cardinal Head man Gary Offenberger. "Even though some were sick and one was hurt, the boys played with grit."
The Cardinals kept it close through one quarter of play as Malvern took a 15-12 lead after one quarter of play. The hosts blew it open in quarter number two, out scoring the Cards 16-3 to take a 31-15 halftime lead.
The Hornets continued to pour it on in the second half, out scoring Sandy Valley 20-10 in the third quarter and 22-16 in the fourth to take the contest by the final count of 73-41.
Leading the way for Sandy Valley was Austin Neisel with 11 points, while knocking down three shots from behind the arc. Nate Shepler chipped in with 10 points and Tyler Hunter added six for the Cardinals.
Neisel was the team leader in rebounds with five.
The Cards returned to the friendly confines of Sandy Valley High School on Friday night to entertain the Conquerors from Heritage Christian.
Heritage Christian got off to a fast start but Sandy Valley stormed back in the second, third and fourth quarters to pull away and capture a 56-44 come from behind win.
The Conquerors raced out to a 16-10 first quarter advantage before the Cardinals even knew what hit them. Following quarter one, it was all red and grey. The Cardinals left the floor after the first half with a 26-25 deficit but came out of the locker room ready to play some ball.
Sandy Valley out scored the Conquerors 31-18 in the second half and cruised to the victory.
Leading the way for the Cardinals was Shepler, who poured in a game high 26 points, including six rebounds to lead the team. Also adding to the stat sheet were Andrew Lancaster with nine, Hunter and teammate Nick Miller each tallied eight, freshman Luke Kail chipped in with three and Walker Grossman added two points and five boards.
As a team, the Cardinals shot just 28 percent from the field but the turnovers were the deciding factor in the game as Sandy Valley had just five compared to Heritage Christian's 19, leading to a shot advantage of 64 to 43. The Cardinals also sunk 14 of their 17 free throw attempts.
Heritage Christian led the rebounding margin by the count of 32 to 28.
The boys (2-3, 1-2) were back on the hardwood on Dec. 18 when they hosted Conotton Valley at Sandy Valley High School. The boys will then hop back on the bus and travel to Strasburg on Friday (Dec. 21) and Indian Valley on Saturday (Dec. 22) as part of five straight road games. Tip-off time for both will be at 6 p.m.