PROPHETSTOWN — Making its debut appearance at the Cliff Warkins Memorial Classic, the Alleman boys' basketball team, along with the other competitors here, faced an instant test.
Hoping to get out of the blocks with two wins in a pair of Saturday games, the Pioneers were able to pass that test. After pulling away in the fourth quarter to earn a 58-42 victory over Riverdale, Alleman got a handful from a scrappy Stockton team but was able to finish strong in a 55-47 win.
"I really appreciated the effort we had in the first game," said Alleman coach Kyle Murray, whose club is now 6-7. "The second game, we came out strong, but as it wore on, we got tired. It was important for us to battle through that fatigue, and come out with the win."
In their opening game, the Pioneers had Riverdale (7-9) nipping at their heels for a good part of the first quarter. With the Rams down just 12-10, Alleman turned up the heat, closing the opening period with 11 straight points. Up by 16 at one point in the second period, the Pioneers led 33-25 at intermission.
In its second game, Alleman got off to a fast 11-4 start but found itself back on its heels as Stockton (3-7) closed the first quarter with a 9-1 run. Up a bucket at halftime, the Blackhawks reeled off six straight points to take a 33-27 third-period advantage.
Weathering a 20-point effort from Stockton's Alex Staver, Alleman got a boost from senior guard Sam Mattecheck (13 points, three steals), whose three-point play in the closing seconds of the third pulled his club within 36-35. The Pioneers then capped a hard-fought fourth with a closing 8-0 run.
E-P, Orion, Wethersfield also start 2-0: Three other area teams got their Warkins runs off to 2-0 starts, as tournament host Erie-Prophetstown, along with Orion and reigning tourney champion Wethersfield as well as Sterling Newman, came out with a pair of Saturday victories.
After handling Stark County 69-45 in their opener behind the one-two punch of Josh Hammer (16 points) and Eric Robinson (15 points), the 7-3 Panthers got a battle from Riverdale, but pulled away in the fourth quarter for a 41-33 win as Hammer netted 15.
Orion (7-5) followed a 46-27 tourney-opening win over Stockton with a 60-38 victory over Stark County as junior guard Josh Johnson had a pair of 11-point games. Classmate Caleb Spranger combined for 22 points in the two wins.
E-P opens with split: With the annual Cliff Warkins Memorial Classic beginning a new era Saturday morning, tournament host Erie-Prophetstown was more than proud to play in one of the day's opening games.
However, the first-year E-P girls' basketball co-op did not secure the result it hoped for, as the Fulton Steamers used a strong mid-game defensive stand to pull away to a 54-40 victory over the Panthers. With one more game yet to play, E-P did not want the day to end on a sour note.
Taking on Rockford Christian in their second outing, the Panthers jumped to a seven-point lead after the first period, then turned up the heat by holding the Royal Lions to just three second-quarter points, using that as a springboard to a 46-31 victory and a first-day split.
Many teams came out of the first day at 1-1, among them the Orion Chargers, who denied Wethersfield's bid for a 2-0 start by handing the Lady Geese a 69-54 setback.