Burning up: Caird torches Southeastern in MCC win

Running a fever, Chris Caird rarely left his bed Friday.

On Saturday, the England sharpshooter could rarely miss.

Battling back from the flu, Caird poured in a game-high 29 points, six rebounds and four assists as the Marshalltown Community College men’s basketball team claimed its second straight ICCAC Division I victory with a 81-65 decision over Southeastern CC at the Student Activity Center.

“I think he was just sweating it out,” MCC guard Matej Delinac said. “Once he sweat it out, he was in the groove.”

The England native found his groove early tallying 22 points in the opening stanza including the Tigers’ last 11 to give MCC a 38-29 cushion at the half. The Blackhawks trailed 25-23 before Caird caught fire with three treys, a driving layup and a pair of free throws over the final 4:41 of the half.

MCC coach Brynjar Brynjarsson didn’t expect Caird to play as many minutes (34), but the sophomore never seemed to waver.

“I didn’t really leave my bed much (Friday), but I feel better now,” Caird said. “I felt good in shootaround and was making my shots so I was confident coming into the game.”

Though scoring just seven points in the second half, Caird was just as valuable as he created numerous open looks for his teammates. Raheim Holloway (16 points) bookended a pair of 3s around a trey from Matej Delinac (14 points) and a layup from Caird to stretch the lead to 55-40 with 13:05 to play.

“Chris did a great job of continuing to play even when all of the attention was on him,” Brynjarsson said. “He was throwing up yesterday and didn’t even practice. I appreciate the toughness he showed to come out here tonight and play as long as he did.”

The Blackhawks never drew closer than 11 the rest of the way as the Tigers made 13-of-22 shots (59 percent) from beyond the arc. Caird shot 10-of-16 and 5-for-9 from deep, while Holloway (4-for-5) and Delinac (3-for-5) also heated up from long range.

Delinac’s final triple pushed the margin to 71-52 with under eight minutes to play as the Tigers cruised to the finish.

Southeastern’s Jordan Stevens, the third leading scorer in the league (17.6 ppg), finished with just nine points on 4-for-11 shooting. Stevens sat much of the opening half with two quick fouls as the Blackhawks played from behind the final 32 minutes en route to their third straight loss.

“We were able to stay solid and keep (Stevens) exactly where we wanted him on the floor so that we had our help ready,” Brynjarsson said.

“It was a team effort in being aware of where the penetration gaps were. We prepared for them very well.”

Debonair Edwards led Southeastern (19-7, 2-4) with 14 points and five boards, while Joe Scott had 10 points and Dontay Jackson added eight.

Cameron Robinson and Troidell Carter scored eight apiece for the Tigers.

It was the second straight payback game for the Tigers (17-7, 2-4), who avenged their previous loss to the Blackhawks just three nights after gaining some revenge on Northeast CC.

Brynjarsson called the overtime loss to Northeast on Jan. 12, “the low point” for the Tigers, who have since picked up their intensity and focus in practice and the effort has carried over.

“They haven’t liked me very much, but I’ve been picking at them and poking at them to get us where we need to be mentally,” Brynjarsson said.

“The guys are focused, ready and hungry for what we’ve got ahead of us.”

The Tigers host ABCD Basketball Academy Monday at 7 p.m.

Notebook

The Blackhawks won the previous meeting 73-69 in West Burlington Jan. 16. … Southeastern has won three national championships in their history (2000, 2003, 2004). … Two UW-Milwaukee coaches talked with Caird after the game.