MVP at Pekin, Andre Iguodala led
Springfield Lanphier to the title..
Road Trip- Part 2
By Frank Rusnak
Westinghouse coach Chris Head said that he feels confident about his team's chances to meet Springfield Lanphier later this year Downstate, after his Warriors bit the dust by a score of 77-71 in the finals at Pekin. While that is not an unlikely scenario, many of the state's holiday tournaments brought fourth teams that could do battle come March, which is why they are considered such a solid gauge of what direction a team's success will go for the rest of the season. old
At the 71st annual Pontiac Holiday Tournament from early morning, until the beginning of the night session, the stars shinned bright in the olden, small town. United Township's 6'10" Northern Illinois-bound James Hughes (Sr.) turned in a remarkable night against Bloomington with 18 points, 14 rebounds and five blocked shots. As Providence Catholic pulled out a close win against Springfield, the rims were never safe when 6'10" Duke-bound Michael Thompson (Sr.) was roaming the painted area, looking for his next available time to strike the rim like a thunderous hurricane. Thompson finished with 30 points and 10 rebounds, while guard Michael Lindsey (5'10 Jr.) complimented the big man with 16 points on 2-for-3 three points attempts. Springfield unsuccessfully attempted a strong fourth quarter push for a comeback led by swingman Keith Elbert (6'4" Sr.), who totaled 27 points, which is made even more noteworthy considering that he didn't start and entered the game only in the second quarter.
In the third game of the day, Niles West hung strong with West Aurora until the end. West was led by its usual suspects of Dameon Mason (6'5" Jr.) and Jaeh Thomas (6'2" So.). Mason finished with game highs of 22 points and 10 rebounds, while Thomas itched closer to his quest of a triple-double with 18 points, nine rebounds and seven steals. Niles West showed great poise and youth with 6'2" freshman Sead Odzic and 5'8" sophomore Jarryd Loyd. Led by Wisconsin-bound Alando Tucker (6'5" Sr.), Lockport decisively defeated Peoria Manual who managed to score only two field goals in the first half, while one came just to beat the buzzer on an Aaron Williams (6'3" Jr.) fastbreak slam. Manual was also missing its star senior guard Paul Burse (6'0" Sr.) due to "family matters."
Joliet Township defended its title by repeating behind a great team effort, which places them as one of the state's elite teams defensively. Creating many of their points off of steals and fastbreak buckets, the high-powered Steelmen can hurt you in a variety of ways. Senior guard Brandon Shoemaker (6'2") showed a great touch from the outside, while post player Jabari Saunders (Sr.) would surly be at a Big Ten program if he had a couple more inches on his 6'5" frame. Making the all-tournament team first team was the Steelmen's Southwest Missouri State-bound Kellen Easley (6'7" Sr.), Simeon's DeShawn Walker (6'6" Jr.) and unanimous choices Thompson, Mason and despite his team's second place finish, Tucker.
Catching the final four at Bloomington, Thornwood showed why they now are the winners of the State Farm Holiday Classic at Illinois Wesleyan for the past three years, eventually downing Rockford Boylan in the finals.
While the Thunderbirds faced-off against an undersized and undermanned Lincoln team in the semifinals, the Railsplitters attempts to slow down the game were to no avail, as Thornwood was to much to handle winning in a route, 49-27. With four players scoring in double figures, Thornwood was led by David Moss (6'5" Sr.) and Geremie Allison with 13 points apiece.
In the next game, many were surprised Rantoul was still left standing against a deep and balanced Rockford Boylan team. Rantoul's main reason in advancing to the final four was its 6'7" senior, Mr. Do-Everything, Blake Schilb. Schilb went for games with 28 points and 12 rebounds, and 31 points and 13 rebounds. However, Rockford Boylan made sure the Cinderella slippers ran out on the Eagles. With Illinois-bound (for football) Steve Harris (5'11" Sr.) leading the attack with his in your face defense and throwing four players at you 6'6" or taller, the Titans were a hard mountain to top. While there was no official MVP choose for this event, Boylan's Eric Gillam (6'6" Jr.) who tallied 28 points against Rock Island on 11-for-12 shooting from the floor, and Schilb were unanimous first team selections on the all-tournament squad.
Reminder to all wanting to catch any games at the 37th annual Pekin Holiday Tournament: stay in bed a few more hours because the games don't start at 9 a.m. like most other tournaments. Not only does it take away from your sleep time, but there isn't a whole lot to do in the cold town of Pekin, right outside of Peoria.
With a 12 noon start time on championship Saturday, the games started out low key, but finished with horrendous bang.
In a peculiar matchup pitting Limestone versus Normal West, two players with a lot of potential lying in front of them squared off. Limestone's 6'5" sophomore DeAaron Williams stayed step-for-step with Normal West's 6'11' Tom Howland (Sr.). While Howland, headed to Ball State, has only started playing hoops a short time ago, DeAaron brings to the table a smooth outside jumper and unparalleled athleticism. Williams and his Rockets won this battle.
Other shinning stars for the day included Champaign Centennial's waterbug point guard Aaron Neal (5'7" So.), Lake Zurich's freshman Mike Kolze (5'9") who started for the Bears, Peoria Woodruff's Rodney Edgerson (6'5" Jr.) and Wes Weatherspoon (6'2" Sr.), Normal West's Michael Burger (6'7" Sr.) and Morton's Lance Dietz (5'11" So.) and Scott Phegley (6'4" Sr.)
In the championship and third place game, four teams squared off that all have a very legitimate chance at advancing Downstate. In the third place game the home Dragons sought revenge on Moline, from their earlier season game on the Maroon's home turf. Will another meeting surface in March? Moline was hindered when its starting point guard Wesley McCorkle (6'0" So.) cut his knee on the knee brace of Pekin's Todd Peterson (6'7" Sr.) and was forced to miss the rest of the game while stitches were needed. Also, the Maroon's leader, Jay McAdams-Thornton (6'3" Sr.) found himself in foul trouble at the tail end of the game. Co-Mr. Hustle award winner, Pekin's Joe Brownfield (6'1" Sr.) was everywhere for his team while him and Peterson received all-tournament honors.
The championship game featured Arkansas-bound Andre Iguodala (6'7" Sr.) from Springfield Lanphier and UNC Greensboro recruit Jamal Brown (5'10" Sr.) from Westinghouse. With the score tied with three minutes left n the game and Lanphier's all-state guard Richard McBride (6'3" Jr.) fouled out, the prospects for a Westinghouse win looked positive. However, Lanphier looked to Iguodala for guidance. "They were saying we were overrated, so we had to show them who we were," said Iguodala, who finished with 21 points and eight rebounds including 4-of-4 free-throws in the final two minutes.
In a close game throughout, Brown did al he could to keep his team close scoring 10 points in the fourth quarter. "I'm not disappointed in my team's performance tonight," said Westinghouse coach Chris Head. "I'm confident we can get a rematch with them downstate."
In a game that Lanphier dominated from the perimeter, led by McBride with 26 points and four three-pointers, Westinghouse had the decisive advantage on the inside. The Warriors were led on the boards by Darius Glover with 19 points and 11 rebounds and Richard Russell with 16 points and eight rebounds. "You have to give credit to Lanphier," said Head, "they came with their game tonight."
Lisle's 6'0" senior, Terence Parker led his Lions to the title at Lemont while being named MVP of the event with a 28 point performance in the finals. Loyola's junior guard, Colin Falls (6'3") racked up 27 points in the championship of the Hardwood Classic at Wheeling while bringing home MVP honors. Peoria Richwoods will not be returning to the Centralia Holiday Tournament next year despite their recent success in being the first team in the 59-year history of the tournament to consecutively win three championships, winning this year over the host Orphans, 58-53. At York, Riverside-Brookfield's standout football player, Tim Brasic (6'1" Sr.), stole the show on the hardwood with 34 points, eight rebounds and nine assists in grabbing MVP honors and lifting his Bulldogs to the title. With 18 points and nine rebounds Curie's Rome Sanders (6'7" Sr.) was MVP at the Lincoln-Way Roundtable Tournament in guiding the Condors to the championship. Class A Robinson's Nick Brooks was named MVP of the Charleston Holiday Tournament while leading his team to a victory in the title game with 26 points and 12 rebounds.
Click here for: Road Trip- Part 1
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