PEKIN, Ill. — It’s almost as if United Township boys’ basketball coach Ryan Webber is training to be a Jedi master.
“Our motto is ‘Fight for the light,” Webber said after the Panthers’ opening-round 52-34 win over Freeport.
He was referencing the tournament staple of the Illinois map on a wall with lights for every city in the 32-team field. Stay undefeated, your city’s light stays on.
“We want to keep our light on,” Webber added. “The goal is to get three wins, get to the championship and see what happens.”
A huge benefit of winning the first one, though, is staying in the Hawkins Gym, rather than be relegated to the Reed-Custer Gym in the school’s basement.
“We played there last year, the only time we’ve played that I’ve been here (on the varsity team) and we didn’t want to do that again,” said Jean Luc Wilson, who tallied 17 points, four rebounds, four assists and was 4-of-4 from the free-throw line, the latter all in the fourth quarter.
Moline 52, Limestone 46: Moline didn't shoot a free throw in the first half but was clutch at the end, going 8-for-8 from the line in the final 100 seconds, paving the way to a 52-46 win and a 10:30 a.m. second-round date today against Rockford Boylan.
“Coach (Eddie) Mathews did a really good job with a game plan and their 2-3 zone,” Moline coach Sean Taylor said. “In that zone, you don’t foul as much."
Deonte Billups led the Maroons with 19 points.
Warkins Memorial Classic
Orion 49, Alleman 46: Trailing for the majority of Thursday's Cliff Warkins Memorial Classic matchup with Alleman, the Orion boys' basketball team got the spark it needed at the right time.
Down by as much as seven in the third quarter, the Chargers were jump-started by three straight baskets from junior forward Caleb Spranger, the last of which was a 3-pointer with 41 seconds left in the period that gave Orion its first lead since the early minutes of the contest.
Although the Pioneers drew even twice in the final period, they could never regain the lead as Orion was able to hold on down the stretch for a 49-46 victory and an opportunity to book a berth in Saturday night's 7:30 Warkins championship game.
State Farm Classic
Rock Island 39, Wheaton Warrenville South 36: Playing against a team such as Wheaton Warrenville South is very difficult, doing so with just one-hour practice makes it twice as tough.
Still, somehow, the Rock Island Rocks found their way around those hurdles and captured a 39-36 win over WWS in the quarterfinals of the Large School Boys division at the State Farm Classic on Thursday.
"We had to play against a really difficult opponent with very little preparation and we did it very well," Rock Island coach Thom Sigel said. "It was one of those games where we just had to find a way to win. It's not often you get a win and score 39 points."
The Rocks (8-4) did it without a big night from senior standout JaMir Price, who finished with seven points.
Annawan splits: It was a mixed bag of results for the Annawan Braves in the State Farm Classic Small School action as coach Alex Coppejans' club bounced back from a morning loss to close the day with a lopsided victory.
The Braves opened with a 61-42 setback to Downs Tri-Valley, but capped the day with a solid 50-33 victory over Olympia.
In the victory, junior guard Julian Samuels scored a game-high 20 points to lead the Braves. Senior forward Dylan Thurston and junior Drake VanHyfte each added eight points to the win.
In the loss to Tri Valley, the Braves were put in a 24-8 hole after the first quarter and never recovered. In that game, Samuels led the Braves with 12 points and VanHyfte added 11.
E.C. Nichols Holiday Tournament
Woodstock North 59, Geneseo 53: Geneseo trailed by just three at halftime and four after three quarters, but a game-high 29 points from Woodstock North's Ryan Schaffter put things too far out of reach at the Marengo HS tournament. Isaiah Rivera led Geneseo with 20 points.
Monmouth-Roseville 46, Rockridge 39: Jamonny Skinner scored a game-high 15 points for Mon-Rose to help the Titans to victory after leading by just two to start the fourth quarter. A Rockridge basket by Jensen Whiteman (12 points) tied the game at 26 late in the third quarter, but Mon-Rose led the rest of the way following its next basket. Riley Fetterer (12 points) and Nate Henry (11) were also in double figures for the Rockets.
Sherrard 56, North Boone 44: Sherrard trailed 18-12 after the first quarter, but Kyle Yeater (10 points), Ethan Earl (six treys, 21 points), and Colton Minch (10 points) were big contributors in ramping up the Tiger scoring after the early deficit. Sherrard held North Boone to 10, nine, and seven points by quarter to close the game.
Fulton 65, South Beloit 49: Fulton's Kyler Pessman scored a game-high 29 points, all in the final three quarters, to pace the Steamers' win.
Kewanee 60, Peru St. Bede 38: The Boilermakers gained a 16-6 lead after the first quarter and did not look back. Kavon Russell (12 points) and Trenton Terry (11 points) led the way offensively for Kewanee, which was 12-for-26 from deep in the win.
Ridgewood wins, Galva falls: Ridgewood topped North Fulton 58-30 at the 91st annual tournament to advance to face Henry in the consolation championship game behind 20 points from Ganon Greenman. Galva fell 44-31 to Elmwood, which advanced to today's tourney title game to face Brimfield.