Between fancy passes and 3-point attempts, Tray Buchanan was having a lot of fun in the first half of the Iowa-Illinois Senior All-Star game at the Carver Center.
But with Illinois down 87-86 late in the game Monday, the United Township senior got serious.
The result was a close game that somehow had a final margin of 13 points, won 105-92 by Illinois.
Buchanan’s drive put Illinois up 88-87. Galesburg’s T.J. Pendleton bucket off a feed from Moline’s Nathan Hurt made it 90-87 and a Pendleton rebound bucket put Illinois up five and Illinois was rolling.
All that was left was a brilliant drive by Geneseo’s Jacob Pauley banking in a left-handed five footer while being fouled and converting the free throw and Illinois was on its way.
“I saw it was open and I turned to the hole,” Pauley said, not mentioning a cross-over that left the defender two steps behind him. “I think we all wanted to win the game, and we did what it took.”
It came from their leader Buchanan, who had 25 points, nine rebounds, five steals and three assists while earning Most Outstanding Player honors.
“We all went out there with the mindset to have fun, but at the end of the game, we all just wanted to win,” said Rock Island’s Jacob Ellis, who had 10 points and 10 rebounds. “Tray Buchanan, he was our leader. That’s kind of what he told us to do. ‘Go out there and have fun. But make sure we come out of here with a 'W' for Illinois.”
Fun was the name of the game early in a game that was tied 45-45 at halftime, Buchanan said, but later on it was time to win.
“Around the five-minute mark, my coach (Black Hawk College coach Darren Bizarri) told us to 'Turn it up, let’s play to win,’ and we did just that,” Buchanan said.
“It means a lot (to win),” he added. “If you’re not playing to win, you shouldn’t be playing.”
But he did have his fun.
“A lot of fun,” Buchanan said. “Last time for the fans to get a chance to watch us play before we go off to college."
Illinois also got 12 points each from from Alleman’s Collin O’Keeffe and Rockridge’s Gentry Whiteman, plus 11 from Pendleton. Hurt added eight points.
Iowa was led by Ray Miller’s 22 points, several of them dunks. North Scott’s Bailey Basala added 18 points and Assumption’s Trenton Wallace 13 rebounds. Davenport Central’s Tirique Randolph added nine as did Bettendorf’s JMichael Young. Bettendorf’s Dylan Clearman added 11 points on a night all players seemed to agree was fun.
“We went up there and Tray came down and knocked down some hard shots,” Miller said. “And we lost it. It was so much fun, as fun as it’s ever been in a game.”