• 48°

Longhorns trumped by Evangel in state draw

MONTGOMERY — Marengo Academy (13-12) watched its season come to an end at Huntingdon College in the first round of the AISA state tournament Monday with a 63-51 loss to Evangel Christian.

The Longhorns struggled to answer the Evangel Christian press, a defensive strategy that allowed the Lions’ athleticism and depth to dictate the pace of the game.

“They had so much more depth than we did,” Marengo Academy head coach Eddie Edwards said. His Longhorns have utilized a rotation of no more than seven players for most of the season, a strategy that did not benefit the team Monday against a seemingly endless Evangel bench.

The Lions’ press forced 40 Marengo Academy turnovers which led to 33 ECA points.

“They did not do a single thing that we didn’t prepare for,” Edwards said. “To turn it over 40 times and only get beat by 12 does say a little about our team.”

Evangel took a 23-15 lead into the second quarter before Marengo began to make a run. The Longhorns cut the lead to 28-24 and faced multiple opportunities to cut into the deficit more. However, the Evangel press proved effective again as MA committed traveling violations on three consecutive possessions. From there, ECA went on a 10-1 run to end the half.

Evangel led by as many as 21 in the second half, but Marengo refused to go away. The Longhorns managed to cut the lead to 11 despite never getting into a halfcourt offensive set.

“They didn’t quit,” Edwards said of his players. “Evangel forced us out of our offense. We never did get to run our offense all night.”

Weldon Fultz led the Longhorns with 15 points. Matt Wallace added 12 points and 11 rebounds while Chase Smyly finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds.

The loss also ends the high school playing careers of five Marengo Academy seniors.

“Every level they’ve played at, they’ve been successful,” Edwards said of the group. “They’ve been important. They got us back to the state playoffs for the fourth straight year.”