Prep Basketball Supplement: Warriors and Spartans See Growth Around DI Stars | Sports
Warriors are closing in on their full potential at the right time
TUSCOLA — A mantra preached by Illinois men’s basketball coach Brad Underwood is to not let one loss turn into many losses.
Justin Bozarth’s Tuscola boys’ basketball team must pay close attention to the leader of Illini.
The Warriors (18-4) have responded to each of their four losses this season with a winning streak – six straight games after their first loss, three-game streaks after their second and third losses and a continuing four-game streak after their fourth loss.
“We’ve spent a lot of time preparing for this season,” Tuscola senior Jalen Quinn said. “But right now we are just working on small flaws and pushing each other to improve every day in training. We like where we are, but we’re still looking to improve.
One of the best examples of this happened last week. The Warriors lost 52-51 at home to Cerro Gordo/Bement on January 17. The following night they beat Central A&M 65-31.
And then they faced a Warrensburg-Latham team receiving votes in this week’s Associated Press Class 2A rankings, trailing 23-13 at halftime before winning 55-46 in overtime.
“It was a really huge moment for us in the season,” said Tuscola senior James Parsley. “We came together and did it at the end of the game.”
That word – we – is important to the Warriors. While their most recognizable face is Quinn, a Loyola Chicago signee who surpassed 2,000 career points Tuesday night in an 88-40 home win over Arthur Christian School, six other seniors feature on Bozarth’s list. .
“It was really fun,” Parsley said. “We went out there and did what we wanted to do so far this season. We’ve had a fun ride, and I think we’re trying to keep building on that.
Quinn generally trails Tuscola in many statistical categories. But, when the whole team is complete, he is rounded out by Parsley and fellow seniors Preston Brown, Haven Hatfield and Rajan Patel, juniors Easton Cunningham and Colton Musgrave and sophomores Jordan Quinn and Josiah Hortin.
“My teammates have helped me a lot throughout the season,” said Jalen Quinn. “I have a target on my back every night. I kind of got used to that over the years, but trying to keep my cool, stay in the game, and stay locked in with my team has kind of been the main thing.
The Warriors are ranked seventh in the latest AP Class 1A poll, which was released Wednesday afternoon. They are listed in the 1A standings alongside another Central Illinois Conference member at fourth-placed Meridian, as well as Cerro Gordo/Bement, who ended up among the teams receiving votes in Wednesday’s poll.
“When we’re in the right frame of mind and have the right mentality for the game, we can be a really scary team in 1A,” Quinn said. “We bring a lot of energy, a lot of offensive power, and on the defensive side we also bring a lot of energy.”
“We had a hard time coming out flat against some teams,” added Parsley. “We just try to make sure we bring the energy from the jump against every team in every game.”
Energy will be crucial for Tuscola in the CIC tournament. The Warriors boast the No. 1 seed and start play at 3 p.m. Saturday in Macon against eighth-seeded Sullivan. Warrensburg-Latham owns the No. 2 seed and host Meridian owns the No. 3 seed. If Tuscola can beat Sullivan on Saturday afternoon, then knock out No. 4 St. Teresa or No. 5 Clinton in the semi-finals next Tuesday night, they would line up a spot in the title match on February 4.
“I don’t think Tuscola has won a conference championship in (boys’) basketball, so we’re looking forward to being first,” Quinn said. “We’re really excited to go out there and have the opportunity to play against some of these great teams and hopefully bring it home.”
Spartans thrive as tough game slate looms
ST. JOSEPH – Kiel Duval’s St. Joseph-Ogden men’s basketball team brought an interesting mix into their 2021-22 season.
Future Division I athlete Ty Pence. A crowd of underclassmen – including Pence – who would receive precious minutes. And a Duval schedule ranks among the toughest in Spartan history.
All in all, this concoction has led to very good results so far.
SJ-O resides at 16-4 and boasts a four-game winning streak heading into Friday night’s Illini Prairie Conference showpiece at Monticello (20-3).
“Every team at this point has its ups and downs, especially when you have a young squad like us,” said Duval, in his fourth season at the helm of the program. “Everyone recognizes Ty, but they don’t realize Ty is still a junior and we have a mix of freshmen and sophomores playing around him with just a small group of seniors.”
Three of the Spartans’ four losses have come to teams listed in the Associated Press’ latest Class 2A state rankings: seventh-placed El Paso-Gridley, 10th-placed Teutopolis and Rockford Lutheran, which received votes Wednesday.
They recently made up for those results with standout wins over Prairie Central, Effingham St. Anthony and St. Thomas More.
The losses to EP-G and Rockford Lutheran came in late December on back-to-back days at the 16-team State Farm Holiday Classic, where SJ-O finished fourth.
“Every game is a different type of game,” Duval said. “Some games are really physical. Some games you play five shooters where they lay you out and space the ground. It’s good for our kids to see all these different styles of play, and hopefully it pays off in the playoffs.
“We’ve told our guys this is probably the toughest schedule we’ve ever played at St. Joe-Ogden. … Every game is a battle, and you hope that by the end of the year, all those tough games will pay dividends.
Pence is a big reason the Spartans are averaging around 60 points per game, posting performances like an 18-point, 12-rebound double-double against Danville in mid-December as many DI college coaches watched.
“What he’s learning to do is play with different defenses,” Duval said. “At the start of the season and even at State Farm, he was almost trying a lot to break teams one-on-one. … Now he’s really working on his game of being tough to guard the basketball. So, when he doesn’t have the basketball, he moves non-stop and goes out of the screens.
This approach has opened the door for teammates like seniors Andrew Beyers, Evan Ingram and Hayden Brazelton, sophomore Logan Smith and freshman Coy Taylor to contribute more and more to SJ-O’s success.
“We knew we had guys who could knock down shots, and they just needed more experience,” Duval said. “It’s just other guys who can make plays that really take all the pressure off Ty, where he doesn’t have to do everything on the offensive side. … When (Beyers) can score seven or eight for us and Logan can put 10-15 and Coy is just around seven or eight, we’re much better that way.
That was evident Tuesday night in SJ-O’s 45-43 home win over STM. Pence struggled with his shot and scored 14 points, but Smith tied it with 14 points and Taylor added nine points.
Only one real uncertainty may lie with the Spartans as they inch ever closer to the Class 2A playoffs. Is there any chance that the match scheduled for January 8 against Tuscola – the Christie Clinic match was canceled due to bad weather – will be postponed?
“I don’t know at this point,” Duval said. “It would be difficult to fit them into the schedule in case we had a (conference) makeup game. … Even this week we’re playing on a Sunday (in the Chicago Orr Shootout), which I think is the first time the program has been on a Sunday afternoon.
Knights can face a new reality without a significant contributor
ARTHUR — Mac Condill’s Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond women’s basketball team has the chance to show what they’re really made of before the start of the Class 2A playoffs next month.
The Knights went 20-1 in Saturday night’s Lincoln Prairie Conference Tournament championship game against Tri-County, a program that won Class 1A state trophies in 2019 and 2020.
And the Titans beat ALAH, allowing the Knights just one first-half field goal in a 48-33 win over Tri-County. Then ALAH received a different painful blow two nights later, when sophomore star Claire Seal went down with an apparent knee injury in a win over Okawa Valley.
“We don’t know what it is yet,” Condill said of Seal’s condition. “But it happens in athletics. Despite this, we will continue to move forward. »
The Knights attack the home stretch of the regular season with or without their double-double threat to Seal. ALAH is now 22-2 and ranked 10th in the latest 2A Associated Press state poll ahead of Thursday night’s visit to Cerro Gordo/Bement. A rematch with Tri-County also looms next Monday. Add to that the success of last year’s condensed season, ALAH are an impressive 36-4 in their last 40 games.
“I don’t think any of us would have predicted this kind of race,” Condill said. “It’s really easy for me, as a guy from a global perspective, to see what a special group of girls we’ve been able to work with over the past two years.”
Condill’s team only lost to Tri-County, the No. 3 team in 1A, and Mattoon, the No. 7 team in 3A. The former backhand, however, gave him much needed insight into his team’s attack in particularly difficult matches.
“We’re talking about trying to find ways to stay relevant,” Condill said. “Standing and basketball don’t go together. We are not bad shooters. We are not great shooters. But we can’t expect to stay behind a 1-3-1 (zone defence) on the corner being open and thinking we’re doing good, especially if we can’t get the ball down there.
The good news for Condill is that he has several athletes who were already playing well most nights before Seal’s injury.
Seniors Alexa Miller, Shaylie Miller, Mallory Nichols and Ryli Kauffman and juniors Kailee Otto and Charley Condill are all used to playing double-digit minutes per game. And produce good stats during those minutes.
“This year five different girls have led us, and I’ve never had that before,” said Mac Condill, in his fifth season as ALAH coach. “We had (Charley Condill) get double-doubles. Alexa Miller nearly had quadruple doubles in steals, assists and boards (plus points). Kailee Otto is one of the fiercest Defenders you will encounter. Shaylie Miller… is just as effective defensively. Then you add Mallory Nichols who can get hot and hit three after three after three and play solid defense.
“We are unfortunately going to take advantage of this strange opportunity that no one wants to take advantage of. This will set the stage for, what do we look like without Claire?”