H.S. boys basketball: Eddies hear coach’s halftime message and steamroll Niles, 47-31

John Fineran
Tribune Correspondent
Edwardsburg's Isaac Merrill during the Edwardsburg vs. Niles boys basketball game Friday, Jan. 21, 2022 at Edwardsburg High School.

EDWARDSBURG  —  Coach Steve Wright’s message to his Edwardsburg boys basketball team took a half to digest. 

Fortunately for the Eddies, they had a second-half feast against visiting Niles Friday night.

Senior forwards Jacob Pegura and Luke Stowasser, who were benched in the first half when Wright subbed out his starting five for an all-junior crew in each of the first two quarters, ended up with double-doubles against the scrappy Vikings as the Eddies overcame a halftime disadvantage to win going away 47-31 in the Wolverine Conference South game.

►Girls game:No. 6 Edwardsburg starts slowly, wins by 70 over visiting Niles

The 6-foot-6 Pegura scored all 13 of his team-high points in the second half, nine of them in a 17-8 third quarter, and added 10 rebounds. The 6-foot-5 Stowasser finished with 11 points and 12 rebounds on a night when he also was named the school’s homecoming king at halftime.

 “I thought we were lethargic,” Wright said after his team improved to 7-3 overall. “Niles really brought the physicality and a lot of energy. They set the tone (for the start of the game). That put us back on our heels. Credit to them — they were ready to go. I thought our second group came in with a spark. Physically and from an energy standpoint, I told them (starters at halftime) we needed to be better.”

Edwardsburg's Luke Stowasser, shooting on Jan. 21, had 12 points for Edwardsburg Wednesday night.

Things could have been worse had  6-foot-3 junior reserve Owen Eberlein not hit a pair of 3-pointers for the Eddies, who still trailed 19-14 at halftime.

Pegura, who has been the starting quarterback on Edwardsburg’s successful football teams of the past two seasons, said Wright’s halftime message came across loud and clear.

“He was very aggressive,” Pegura said. “He said he was embarrassed by us seniors. He said we played pathetically. That kind of motivated us to play strong and fast.”

Pegura scored six of Edwardsburg’s nine points to start the third quarter as the Eddies took a 23-22 lead with 3:43 remaining and the Eddies never trailed again. Stowasser had five points and Pegura added three more on an 8-0 run that increased the lead to 31-22 before a 5-0 Niles run cut the Eddies lead to 31-27 to start the final quarter.

The Eddies held the Vikings to just one field goal in nine attempts and two free throws while pulling away in the fourth quarter. Junior Mason Crist nailed two free throws to provide the largest lead and the final points in the victory.

 “Physicality and free throws,” Pegura said. “We lack physicality sometimes and I’d like to see it get better. And the free throws – we’ve got to knock those down.”

Edwardsburg's Isaac Merrill and Niles' Brendan Madison fight for a loose ball during the Edwardsburg vs. Niles boys basketball game Friday, Jan. 21, 2022 at Edwardsburg High School.

Senior Dimetrius Butler was the only Viking to finish in double figures with 11 points, and 10 of those came in the first half, six of them on a pair of 3-pointers in the second quarter as Niles started out hitting 8-of-22 shots in the first half. But the Vikings were only 4-of-21 shooting in the second half and got outworked on the board 33-23.

“If the game was over after two quarters, we’d have been fine,” Niles’ first-year coach Myles Busby said. “That’s how we’ve been the last couple of games. We play a great quarter and a half, two quarters … the third quarter is where we’ve got to figure something out.”

Busby said the lack of offense in the second half also influenced Niles’ defensive play during the final 16 minutes.

“We let what happened offensively affect us defensively,” Busby added. “We got outrebounded in the second half (20-11) and got outscored (33-12). We’ve got to clean some things up.”

The Vikings (2-5 overall, 0-1 Wolverine South) will attempt to break a three-game losing streak when they host Three Rivers Tuesday night. That same night the Eddies put their 2-1 Wolverine South record on the line against visiting Sturgis.        


At Edwardsburg

NILES (31): Dimetrius Butler 11, Mike Phillips 7, Austin Bradley 1, George Pullen 5, Elijah Hester 2, Anthony Brady Jr. 3, Jordan Edwards 2, Kimoni McClean 0, Casey Marlin 0, Darris Johnson 0, Alec Lozada 0, Codey Marst 0. TOTALS 12 3-6 31.

EDWARDSBURG (47): Luke Stowasser 11, Jacob Pegura 13, Brendan Byce 3, Isaac Merrill 5, Jake Moore 5, Zach Bartz 0, Mason Crist 2, Brendan Madison 2, Corbin Blagg 0, Owen Eberlein 6. TOTALS 17 10-15 47.

Niles | 8 | 19 | 27 | 31

Edwardsburg | 4 | 14 | 31 | 47

3-point goals: Niles 4 (Butler 2, Brady Jr. 1, Phillips 1), Edwardsburg 3 (Eberlein 2, Byce 1). Total fouls (fouled out): Niles 15 (none), Edwardsburg 9 (none). Records: Niles 2-5 (0-1 Wolverine Conference South), Edwardsburg 7-3 (2-1 Wolverine Conference South).