HUNTINGTON, Ind. - It was senior night and fittingly so, lone statesman Caleb Kennedy made sure his Foresters came away with an 83-75 win over the Maple Leafs of Goshen College Tuesday night at the Merillat Complex. He finished with 19 points, grabbed seven rebounds and notched a pair of assists and steals in his last regular season home game.
With one game left until tourney time, it was a crucial must-win for both teams as they entered the night’s contest tied for fifth with identical league records of 8-8. With this win, HU (17-12, 9-8) evens up the regular season series against Goshen and more importantly jumps into a fourth place tie with Saint Francis in the ever-changing conference standings.
Shane Merryman topped HU with 20 points, seven rebounds and six assists. TJ Short and Nick Teeter each tossed in ten points to round out the Foresters’ double digit scoring.
The first half was a battle of the bigs as Merryman, Kennedy and Goshen’s Mike Betcher accounted for nearly half of the points in the opening twenty minutes. The HU duo combined for twenty points while Betcher dumped in 11 points and swatted three Forester shots for the Leafs.
Betcher got down to business from opening tip by scoring two quick layups and dropping in a trey to give Goshen the early 13-11 lead after five minutes of play but Kennedy turned things around for HU with back-to-back buckets to spark a 20-7 run that gave the home crowd plenty to cheer about. Huntington’s ten-minute counterattack turned their two-point deficit into an 11-point lead at 31-20 and showcased the offensive prowess of five different Foresters.
Not to be outdone, Goshen took their turn in the spotlight as five different Leafs collectively went 7-for-8 from the field in the final five minutes of the half to even things up at 36-36 by intermission.
Betcher again jumpstarted his team in the second period by scoring six of the Leaf’s first ten points to nose the visitors in front 46-42 with 17 minutes on the clock. The Foresters dipped back into their arsenal of offensive weapons to go on a 10-2 run highlighted by a Nick Teeter trey to put HU back on top 52-48 at the 12:04 mark.
Three ties later, Merryman and TJ Short teamed up to score Huntington’s next 11 points to grow the lead back to seven at 72-65 by the 4:54 mark. Kennedy connected on a traditional three-point play three minutes later to give the Foresters some breathing room. Goshen would trim the lead to four on two different occasions but HU went 6-for-6 from the charity stripe down the stretch to ward off any late-game heroics by the visitors.
Kody Chandler poured in a game-high 23 points for the Maple Leafs. Betcher finished with 20 points while Garner Small added another 14.
The Foresters hit the road for their last MCC matchup of the season. They face the Cougars of Spring Arbor University on Saturday at 3:00 p.m.