HERRIN — Senior forward Billy Braid poured in 21 points on seven field goals and seven free throws Saturday afternoon to lead Herrin to a 47-35 nonconference win over visiting Carbondale. The senior could have had an even bigger game had he not struggled from the free-throw line (eight misses in 15 attempts).
It was the fourth straight win for Herrin, which improves to 4-1 overall. The Terriers remain winless at 0-4.
"Their physicality and quickness at the guard slots gave us some trouble," said Herrin head coach Sayler Shurtz of the Terriers' effort. "We're going to have to get stronger with the basketball if we want to beat bigger schools like Carbondale."
The Tigers fought their way to a 12-10 lead after one quarter of play and pulled ahead by seven at the intermission at 22-15. Points were hard to come by for each team. Part of the reason for the lack of offense may have been due to the fact that both teams were playing a second game in less than 24 hours. And part of the problem was solid defense from each ballclub.
The Terriers, hungry to get their first win, pulled within three early in the third period at 22-19, but could get no closer the rest of the game. Herrin gradually built a nine-point lead at the end of three periods (36-27) and expanded that lead to double digits early in the fourth period thanks to a conventional 3-point play by Braid.
Four consecutive free tosses from Herrin sophomore Haydon Mayer, who finished with 15 points on four field goals and 6-of-6 free throws, upped the advantage to 12 at 43-31. Another free toss from Braid gave the Tigers their biggest lead of the day at 44-31.
The Terriers refused to roll over, however, and pretty much played the Tigers even the rest of the way.
Whereas Braid and Mayer were providing what little offense Herrin could muster, it was junior guard Gabe Hilliard and senior center Jarvis Allison who provided the pop for the Terriers with nine points apiece.
"I thought we gave a great effort today," said Carbondale head coach Jim Miller. "It's little things like unforced errors and missing shots around the basket that's hurting us the most right now. We're making some positive strides. It may not show up in the win column, but we've grown. We're getting better. I'm very proud of our kids. They're listening to us."
Miller pointed out that while it is frustrating to be 0-4, he is elated that there is at least a partial season of basketball.
"We're really happy to be playing. We're fortunate," he said.
Shurtz said he likes the way his team has played, making steady progress since a season-opening loss to Carterville.
"Offensively, we're starting to gel," he said. "The kids are understanding their roles better with each game. There is still a lot of improvement needed, but we're getting better. This week will tell us a lot about our season as we play three games in four days."