The Moline Maroons had a tough time recovering from a 67-minute delay to repair a shattered backboard after a dunk in the first semifinal of the Pekin Insurance Holiday Classic on Friday night.
However, a three-minute delay to eject a fan of the opposing team sure sparked the Maroons to a thrilling 60-59 victory over Plainfield East to set up an all-Quad-Cities final against United Township today.
The No. 1 seeded Maroons, who will play in the championship game at 6:30 p.m. tonight, held a 46-37 lead with 4:28 left in the third quarter when the tournament’s schedule for the rest of the night was shattered. Plainfield East’s Christian Shumate drove the lane for a slam dunk and his hang time — which the referees ruled was for his protection — made the backboard look like a crystallized rectangular holiday ornament.
That was at 7:12 p.m. Repair time and ensuing warmups took until 8:19 p.m. United Township’s game in the second semifinal, against Mount Carmel, scheduled for an 8 p.m. start, did not tip off until 9:12.
“It was a crazy game,” said Moline coach Sean Taylor. “I’ve never been in a game like that and I’m pretty sure our players never had either.”
With Moline already in earlier in the night, it sure didn’t look like United Township was going to join them … until the final quarter of their night.
The Panthers outscored Mount Carmel 22-6 in the fourth quarter to pull out a 50-46 victory and a title date.
It will be the Panthers’ first time in the Pekin championship game, in their sixth year in the tournament. Moline has three firsts and two seconds in its 40 years in the Pekin field.
State Farm Classic
Rock Island 50, Normal Community 44: The Rock Island boys' basketball team has been awaiting the real Solomon Gustafson. The Rocks are seeing that this week.
After a struggling start to his junior season, the 6-foot-7 Rock had a pretty good game on Wednesday in a win. Then, he had probably his best game in his two seasons with the varsity in a 50-44 win over Normal Community in the Large School Boys semifinals at the State Farm Classic on Thursday.
Gustafson had 10 points, seven rebounds, a block and a steal to lead the Rocks (9-4) into tonight's 8:30 p.m. championship game against top-seeded Chicago Kenwood.
Hosts reach Warkins boys title game: Friday night's pool-play finale between the Erie-Prophetstown and Orion boys' basketball teams was very much cut-and-dried in terms of what a win meant for either club.
Whoever came out on top would earn its place in tonight's 7:30 championship game of the 17th annual Cliff Warkins Memorial Classic. In the tournament's previous 16 years, that honor had eluded the hometown Erie Cardinals.
In the first-year of the Erie-Prophetstown co-op, the breakthrough finally came for the Warkins hosts. After E-P senior guard Josh Hammer hit two free throws with 31.4 seconds left to put his club up one, a half-court 3-pointer by Josh Johnson was ruled to have been shot after the buzzer sounded, enabling the Panthers to escape with a thrilling 40-39 victory.
The Panthers will take a 9-3 record into tonight's 7:30 title game against Three Rivers East Division rival Sterling Newman (13-1).
State Farm Classic
Rock Island 49, Peoria Richwoods 44: Rock Island girls' basketball coach Henry Hall continues to tell people his team is a surprise. That can't work any longer.
Hall's Rocks upset No. 1-seed, Class 3A No. 1-rated and defending 3A state champion Peoria Richwoods 49-44 in Friday's Large School Girls semifinals at the State Farm Classic.
Brea Beal drew a ton of fouls and wound up with 24 points, making 14-of-15 from the free-throw line.
Alleman 28, Fithian Oakwood 26: The Pioneers didn't score a lot, but they scored enough to beat Fithian Oakwood 28-26 in the Small School Girls consolation championship.
Gabbi Loiz scored half of her team's points with 14.
Moline 60, Washington 57 (OT): Moline senior Megan Pittington pulled off the trifecta of heroics in the Maroons’ 60-57 overtime victory over Washington that puts them in the Peoria Manual Girls Tournament championship game for a second straight year.
In the final 70 seconds of overtime, she forced turnovers, a pair of them; blocked a shot, and managed the rebound; and then hit two free throws with 6.2 seconds showing to clinch the victory.
Eastland 71, UTHS 49: With bronze on the line in the KSB Dixon Holiday girls’ basketball tournament, United Township fell short in a 71-49 loss to Eastland.
Litton grabs career record: Wethersfield senior Brittney Litton scored 21 points to pass Shelby Steger as the program's all-time leading scorer in a 58-34 win over Fulton. Litton now has 1,974 points in her career.
“It's always been a goal of mine since I knew I had over 1,000 points,” she said. “At the same time, I didn't really focus on it. I focused more on being a team player, and helping the team out. I want all of my teammates to be able to take it to the hoop and succeed, and that's what we did (Friday).”
Orion, MerCo finish 3-1 in pool play: Both the Orion Chargers and the Mercer County Golden Eagles completed 3-1 pool-play stints with each team scoring its third consecutive victory on Friday.
Orion (11-5) rallied to beat Rockford Christian 51-42. Danielle Taets led the Chargers with 16 points, and Hailey James chipped in with 10 points.
MerCo (6-10) beat Rockridge 48-28 Rockridge, with Karli Stineman scoring 10 of her game-high 18 points in the first half.
Bureau Valley also beat Morrison 66-61 in overtime.
Knoxville, Stockton in title rematch: For the second straight year, Knoxville and Stockton will meet for the 10th annual Warkins Girls Classic championship.
Knoxville beat Erie-Prophetstown 50-37 to advance to the final.