It was homecoming night at Sandy Valley High School on Friday night (Feb. 1) as People's Baptist Academy came to town for a non-conference bout with the Cardinals.
Following a Cardinal blowout during the JV contest and all the homecoming festivities, the ball was tipped.
Sandy Valley was more then ready for a win as they hadn't seen one since Dec. 14, but a 23-8 Patriot team stood in their way.
Sandy Valley was too much.
The Cardinals used a big fourth quarter and gained their third win of the season by besting the Patriots by the final tally of 74-63 and ending that dreaded losing streak.
"We started out hot but started settling for too many threes and our transition defense let them back into the game," said SV head coach Gary Offenberger.
Shepler began the game with a quick two as teammate Tyler Hunter followed with a triple on their next possession to jump out to a quick 5-0 advantage.
A Walker Grossman two and an Austin Neisel triple left the Patriots scratching their heads down 10-0 with with only a minute and a half off the clock.
The Patriots settled down midway through the quarter and reeled off six straight points to cut the Cardinal lead to 14-10 with 3:02 left in the first. A Schlimm bucket pushed the lead to 18-10 with 2:32 remaining in the first eight minutes but after that, the Cardinals went scoreless as the Patriots once again put together a quick 6-0 run to end the quarter down 18-16.
"Everytime we made a run and was about to put them away, they would always answer back," said Offenberger on the Patriots
The Cardinals began the second half on another 10-0 spurt to stretch their lead to 28-16 with 4:53 left in the first half thanks to free throws and a bucket from Hunter, two buckets by Schlimm and a Shepler free throw on the front end of a one and one.
The Patriots ended their scoring drought with a Jordan Spencer three pointer with 4:40 left in the half, a drought that lasted almost half of the quarter.
People's Baptist continued to chip away at the Cardinal lead as Sandy Valley went on a scoring drought of their own with just under four minuted left in the half. The Patriots went on a 7-0 run to cut the SV lead to 32-29 and trailed just 35-32 after the first half of play.
Schlimm led the Cards in the first half with 10 points followed by Hunter with eight and Neisel with five.
Following the halftime intermission, both teams returned to the floor for more fireworks.
The third quarter was a see-saw as the Cardinals could not build a lead more then seven points at 39-32 thanks to a bucket by Neisel with 6:59 left in the quarter.
The Patriots once again kept themselves in the game by cutting the Cardinal lead to 39-37 with 6:12 remaining in the quarter and tying the game at 39 on their next offensive possession.
Shepler added a three to give the Cardinals the quick lead with 5:23 left in the quarter before the Patriots went on a quick 4-0 run to take their first lead of the game with 3:43 left in the quarter.
After a back and forth final three minutes, the Patriots found themselves up one after three as they took a 47-46 lead into the final quarter.
Then, the wheels fell off for People's Baptist Academy.
A 9-0 run to begin the quarter gave the Cardinals the lead for good at 55-47 as the Schlimm and Shepler show began.
Schlimm ended the fourth quarter with 13 of his game-high 25 points while Shepler poured in 11 of his 19 in the final frame.
The Cardinals pushed their lead up to double-digits when Shepler put down a two with 4:34 left in the game to make the advantage 61-50.
Two technical fouls on the Patriots in the final three minutes of the game pushed the Cardinal lead from 10 to 17 and put the game out of reach for Sandy Valley.
Two free throws from freshman Luke Kail iced the scoring night for the Cardinals as they sent the homecoming crowd home happy with a 74-63 victory.
Also adding to the scoring spree for the Cardinals were Hunter with 10, Neisel with nine, Walker Grossman with four, Andrew Lancaster with three, while Kail and Nick Miller each had two.
"It was good to see that we finally made mental adjustments at the end of the game and was able to finish them off," said Offenberger on the win.
Sandy Valley ends the week with an overall record of 3-14 and 1-8 in the IVC.
The Cardinals were back on the court Tuesday night (Feb. 5) when they hosted the Strasburg Tigers in an InterValley Conference dual. Sandy Valley will then host Garaway on Friday night (Feb. 8) Tip-off is set for 6 p.m.