CHURUBUSCO — After seeing its longest winning streak under head coach Michael McBride fall last week to Westview, Churubusco could have seen the season take a turn for the worse.
However, this season is different for the Eagles with a ban of five seniors making a difference.
“Losing last week to Westview was a tough loss for us,” McBride noted. “Practice needless to say has been intense. We needed to get back to doing some things we did prior and I think we did that tonight.
“We responded well.”
Wednesday, Churubusco (5-2) responded by shooting better than 60 percent from the field in a senior lead victory over Woodlan (1-8) 68-41.
As he has done for most of the season, senior guard Hunter Nicodemus helped the Eagles jump out to an early lead with his game-high 23 points.
“He’s worked really hard on his game,” McBride said of Nicodemus. “He’s matured. He’s doing a lot of good things right now and working within the offense.”
Already up 11-4 in the first quarter, two of Nicodemus’s three buckets from behind the arc came with under a minute to go in the first.
The final, a bank shot from just inside the half court line, beat the buzzer to leave Woodlan in a double digit deficit after one quarter 17-6.
Behind Nicodemus, Churubusco shot 13-for-19 from the field in the first half also missing only one of 12 free throws attempted in the first half.
While Woodlan managed to shoot 47 percent in the first half it was a lack of shots attempted by the Warriors that won the half for Churubusco.
“It’s a testament to our kids,” McBride said of the defensive pressure that forced Woodlan into 12 first half turnovers. “I thought we could pressure them tonight. We were able to come out and do that.”
Another buzzer beater, this time by Woodlan’s Nick Patterson, took the game to halftime with Churubusco holding a comfortable lead 40-21.
Coming off a second quarter where they scored 23 points, the Eagles used defense to manage its large lead in the third quarter.
Despite scoring its lowest of any quarter for the night, Churubusco allowed only one field goal by Woodlan with 1:17 remaining in the quarter.
It’s no mistake the same Eagle senior scoring the points in the third was the leader on defense, Tavin Herendeen.
“The biggest thing Tavin does is he gets us going on the defensive end,” McBride stated. “When Tavin is into what we are doing on defense, he can completely set the tone.”
Herendeen let it be known he can score as well. The senior guard scored eight of his 14 points in the third quarter including three of Churubusco’s first four buckets of the quarter.
The Eagles built their lead to as much as 29 points by the end of the third.
It’s the best start for a Churubusco through seven games since the 2004-05 season when the Eagles went 15-8 and lost in the sectional final to Fremont.
Oddly enough, an North East Corner Conference boy-girl doubleheader Friday night brings Fremont (6-2, 1-1) to town riding a five-game winning streak in a crucial conference match-up.
“We’re much more mature this year,” McBride said. “The leadership is much better. They understand we’ve lost two games but we’ve lost to two very good teams.
“I don’t think we’re quite even playing our best basketball yet but we were pretty solid tonight.”