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High school boys basketball: Copenhagen toughs out win at Belleville Henderson in defensive struggle

Jan. 20—BELLEVILLE — It wasn't exactly an offensive showcase, but Sam Carroll and his Copenhagen teammates will take the victory.

In turn, the Golden Knights delivered a defensive gem against Frontier League foe Belleville Henderson.

Carroll recorded a double-double by generating 10 points and hauling in 12 rebounds, and Caden Miller scored 15 points as Copenhagen gutted out a 36-31 win over the Panthers on Friday night in a "D" Division game played at Belleville Henderson.

With the win, the Golden Knights improved to 9-4 on the season, including 7-3 in league play.

Like the other teams around the league, both teams didn't play a game or even practice the past two days because of the snowstorm that blanketed the area.

"It's a very nice win," Copenhagen coach Logan Spaulding said. "Not being able to practice for two days in a row certainly was tough, and Belleville's in the same boat, too. You could tell probably by the score, too, and it's always a tough gym to play in. But I think when you don't really get to see your guys for a few days, the chemistry is kind of off. But I thought both teams played tremendous defense."

"It was just good to be able to get back at it," Carroll said. "This is a good win for us and Belleville is always a tough team."

On Friday, both squads got off to slow starts, with the Golden Knights building a 19-12 lead by halftime after both scored only seven points in the opening quarter.

"The thing is they're so lanky and they're big," Spaulding said of Belleville Henderson. "When he (Belleville Henderson coach Jude Fusili) goes to his taller lineup, there's not a guy under six foot and it's tough. ... But defensively for us, with our man-to-man, I put (Landon) Sullivan on the (Brandon) Dodge kid, I feel like he's stocky enough and strong enough, he's not as tall. But I feel the way Dodge plays he plays more like a guard than a big man, but I think Landon did a fairly good job. Dodge still got his points, but he earned them."

Copenhagen would lead by as many as nine points in the third quarter, but Belleville Henderson would respond by generating a 9-3 run to pull within 24-21 on a short jump shot from Brandon Dodge with 1:15 left in the period.

But the Golden Knights answered by draining successive 3-pointers, first one from Logan Jordl, who connected in the final seconds after Carroll made a block, and Miller opened the fourth quarter with a triple of his own to restore a nine-point advantage at 30-21.

"He played well tonight, he's just a versatile player," Spaulding said of Carroll. "Logan provides some good minutes off the bench. Certainly him and Elijah Smith give us that energy defensively."

Copenhagen would go on to lead by eight points at 32-24 on a putback basket from Landon Sullivan with 4:50 remaining, but Belleville Henderson would mount a 7-2 run to draw within 34-31, capped by a 3-pointer from Zion John in the final minute.

But Sullivan would drain two free throws with 4.7 seconds left to forge the final margin.

"I think some of the shots fell our way more so than theirs and it was a two-point game with like two seconds left and Caden Miller hit some clutch free throws to seal it," Spaulding said.

Dodge scored 15 points to lead Belleville Henderson (7-6, 6-3) offensively.

Earlier in the first half, the Golden Knights trailed 9-7 in the second quarter, but answered with a 10-2 run, which they extended into a 12-3 surge to conclude the half.

"Not practicing for a couple days hurts the offensive rhythm," Fusili said. "But we just couldn't execute offensively at all, we really struggled taking care of the ball and putting the ball in the basket ultimately. The defense was great, when you hold a team to 36 points is great, but when you can't put the ball in the basket, it's not going to be the outcome you want."

With the win, Copenhagen gained ground on division leader Sackets Harbor, which is unbeaten in league play.

The Golden Knights have five games remaining in the regular season, with its next league game at LaFargeville next Wednesday.

"What I tell the boys all the time is we certainly have the potential to be competitive against every single team in our league," Spaulding said. "Now in my opinion, Sackets Harbor is by far the best team and potentially in the entire north country in Class D. ... And on any given night I think that our league is one of the toughest. And again, Sackets they're at tier one, but I really think us, LaFargeville and Belleville Henderson are all around the same level, so it's a tough league. And I hope we can build off of this win."

Meanwhile, third-place Belleville Henderson has three games left, including two in the league, including a home game against LaFargeville next Friday and a road encounter with Copenhagen on Jan. 31.