PEORIA — Bey who?
That’s Bey-Buie, pronounced “Bay-Boo-E.” And Harrison Bey-Buie, a sophomore, is one now etched in Moline boys’ basketball lore.
Bey-Buie, who transferred to Moline from Harvey Thornton High School in Chicago in January and became eligible two weeks ago, is a big reason why the Maroons will be playing Friday in the Class 4A Danville Regional championship game against the top-seeded hosts.
Bey-Buie scored 15 points, 11 in the fourth quarter, to propel No. 4-seeded Moline to a 53-47 victory over Normal Community, the No. 5 seed, at Peoria Richwoods, with the game moved there for midweek travel reasons.
Moline (21-7) had not played in 11 days. That actually worked out to its advantage, with Bey-Buie given time to work with the five starters. And Bey-Buie played significant minutes early on, with Ben Monroe, Brody Harding and Drew Wiemers all saddled with foul trouble.
“I watched film every day,” Bey-Buie said of his varsity preparation. He played in the regular-season finale, a win over Galesburg, taking two shots and scoring two points. “I expected tonight just to get rebounds and to press the ball.”
The newcomer matched season-long leading scorer Deonte Billups in points. He also had six rebounds, none bigger than the offensive board at the end of the third quarter that helped put Moline up 32-27, a big precursor to what was to come.
“He has been with us since January and has practiced with us, so it doesn’t feel like he is a sophomore,” Harding said of Bey-Buie. “He feels like one of us.”
The stockily built, 5-foot-9 Bey-Buie averaged eight points a game at Thornton until the transfer, moving to Moline because of his dad's employment at the Arsenal.
Moline coach Sean Taylor says that in his 27 years of coaching, he has never had a player come onto the varsity scene like Bey-Buie did, playing about 16 minutes in the regular-season finale and then most of the regional opener.
“We had to wait a long time to get him,” said Taylor. “He offers something we didn’t have — pressure on the ball, rebounding … and he’s just a sophomore.”
Bey-Buie’s out-of-nowhere production came amid a lot of what Moline has done to get to this point. Jeff McInnis led the Maroons with nine rebounds, and Billups had eight. Then, in the fourth quarter, Harding, Wiemers and Billups all joined Bey-Buie in making free throws to keep the Ironmen (20-9) at bay.
“He was a little rusty,” Billups said of Bey-Buie, who had no shot attempts and two missed free throws in the first half, “but he made some big plays (in the second half). He was really helpful.”
Normal Community, which lost to Moline 54-40 three weeks ago at Normal, was led in scoring by reserve Daylen Boddie with 15 points, hitting three 3-pointers. C.J. Wilbourn, the Ironmen’s 6-foot-7 center who did not play that first game because of a concussion, had nine points and seven rebounds in the regional matchup.