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Somonauk Earns First Title Since 2003 in Defeating Hinckley-Big Rock

Indian Creek wins third place game for second straight season

Indian Creek Pulls Off Upset, Paw Paw Falls

By Bill Lidinsky - Ottawa Times


Indian Creek 55, Leland Earlville 45


More often than not high school tournament basketball produces an upset or two along the way.


Monday night at Somonauk would serve as testament to that as No. 6-seed Indian Creek provided its fans with a balanced all-around performance to upend third-seeded Leland-Earlville, 55-45 in the Little Ten Conference Tournament.


The Timberwolves had three players tally in double figures as they took the lead early in the first quarter and never looked back.


"It was the best team effort of the year by far for us," said Indian Creek coach Joe Piekarz. "Everyone that came in the game for us tonight stepped up and played just a great game. I was really proud of the effort that we had."


After an early 4-2 Leland-Earlville lead, Indian Creek (12-9) took control, racing out to an 11-6 advantage after one quarter behind seven first period points by senior Freddy Assell.


The Panthers (10-7) were cold from the field early on and their shooting woes continued during the next eight minutes as they fell behind 20-8 with 3 minutes, 40 seconds left in the half. Indian Creek senior Clayton Anderson canned two 3-pointers and a deuce to give the Timberwolves the advantage.


"The last time we played well offensively was in our win against Hinckley-Big Rock. We didn't shoot the ball well tonight in the first half and we got behind early," said Leland-Earlville coach Jerry Pohl. "We took too many ill-advised shots and their kid hit two 3s in the second quarter to help put them up going into halftime."


Indian Creek led 27-16 at the intermission and then again 39-27 after three periods. The Timberwolves dominated early in fourth quarter play extending their lead to 48-30 with five minutes to go.


Leland-Earlville did receive a nice effort from postman Greg Frieders. He led all scorers with 23 points. Anderson, along with senior Jacob Swanson, paced Indian Creek with 13 each, while Assell chipped in the 12.


"I don't want to leave Greg out even though we lost. We had him inside because he's the guy that has to do it for us this year," Pohl said. "Then he went outside and hit a couple of 3s in the fourth quarter. So maybe I'll have to change my thought process a bit."


Leland-Earlville now falls to Thursday's 7:30 p.m. consolation bracket semifinal versus the loser of tonight's game between Hinckley-Big Rock and LaMoille. That game will be held at Leland.


INDIAN CREEK (55) -- Foster 0 0-0 0, Swanson 3 6-8 13, Mitchell 2 3-5 7, Barrett 2 0-0 4, Assell 4 4-5 12, Davis 0 1-2 1, Makarrall 2 0-0 4, Anderson 4 2-2 13, Peterson 0 1-2 1. Totals 17 17-24 55.

LELAND-EARLVILLE (45) -- Anderson 1 0-0 2, Johnson 2 3-4 7, Tucker 2 0-0 4, Shumway 1 6-8 8, Mohr 0 0-0 0, Hall 0 1-6 1, Grube 0 0-0 0, Frieders 8 5-7 23. Totals 14 15-24 45.


Indian Creek (12-9)        11   16   12    16 - 55

Leland-Earlville (10-7)     6    10   11    18 - 45

3-point goals -- Indian Creek 4 (Anderson 3, Swanson 1); Leland-Earlville 2 (Frieders 2). Rebounds -- Indian Creek 25 (Assell 5, Anderson 5); Leland-Earlville 23 (Shumway 8). Turnovers -- Indian Creek 13; Leland-Earlville 17. Total fouls (none fouled out) -- Indian Creek 17, Leland-Earlville 18.


Hiawatha 44, Paw Paw 35


In the opener of the LTC Tournament at Somonauk, eighth-seeded Kirkland Hiawatha's inside scoring duo of Floyd Webster and Nate Clark combined to dominate ninth-seeded Paw Paw.


The pair also led the Hawks on the boards as Hiawatha outrebounded the Bulldogs 30-19 on the evening. Webster finished with 15 points and six rebounds while Clark tallied 13 points and 14 rebounds for the Hawks. Paw Paw played with only six varsity players due to illness and the coinciding LTC J.V. tournament at LaMoille.


"We wanted to dress a seventh player tonight (Jordan Hendren), but he got ill today with the flu so we gave it our best shot with six," said Paw Paw coach Blake Strong. "Unfortunately, Hiawatha's big men really hurt us down low. We gave up a lot of inside position especially in the first half."


Hiawatha led 22-17 at the half and stretched the lead to 33-21 after three periods. From there, Paw Paw kept battling and cut the lead to 39-35 with just over a minute to play. But Webster canned four of six free throws down the stretch to give the Hawks a nine-point victory.


Dodaro was high scorer for Paw Paw with 12 points. He also hauled down a team-high eight rebounds. Paw Paw now faces Serena in the LTC consolation bracket with a 6 p.m. start time at Leland High School on Thursday.


PAW PAW (35) -- Wiley 0 0-0 0, Safranek 1 0-1 2, Simpson 2 2-3 6, Dodaro 6 0-1 12, Penman 3 0-0 6, Deking 3 3-6 9. Totals 15 5-11 35.

KIRKLAND HIAWATHA (44) -- Keneway 3 1-2 7, Andujar 4 0-1 9, Doles 0 0-1 0, Smothers 0 0-0 0, Webster 5 4-6 15, Welk 0 0-0 0, Kadela 0 0-0 0, Clark 6 1-1 13. Totals 18 6-11 44.


Paw Paw (5-19)                    9     8     4    14 -- 35

Kirkland Hiawatha (5-15)    10   12  11    11 -- 44

3-point goals -- Paw Paw 0. Kirkland Hiawatha 2 (Andujar, Webster). Rebounds -- Paw Paw 19 (Dodaro 8); Kirkland Hiawatha 30 (Clark 14). Turnovers -- Paw Paw 15; Kirkland Hiawatha 16. Total fouls (fouled out) -- Paw Paw 17 (Simpson), Kirkland Hiawatha 14 (Andujar).


Norsemen end Serena's reign

By Charlie Ellerbrock - Ottawa Times


Newark 63, Serena 35


There will be no "four-peat" of Little Ten Conference Tournament titles for Serena.


The Newark Norsemen received a huge first-half off the bench from 6-foot-5 senior Ivo Gentchev. They then added to that a solid defensive third quarter and an offensive surge from freshman Kyle Anderson to soundly upend the three-time defending champs 63-35 in their LTC opening round game here in Somonauk Monday night.


Gentchev, who led everyone with 19 points and seven rebounds, came off the bench to pop in a pair of treys in the first quarter, then added eight points in the second as the Norsemen took a 32-22 lead.


Anderson, who struggled to just four points and 1-of-6 shooting in the first two quarters, poured in eight points as Newark forced seven turnovers and outscored the No. 5 seeded Huskers 18-3 in the third period.


"Ivo came over to me before the game and said he was 12-for-12 on threes in warmups, but I know giving him the green light to shoot threes means you're going to get a bunch of them," laughed Newark coach Rick Tollefson. "He can shoot them, but you have to worry every shot with him becomes a three. But when he gets hot, you want him shooting them. Tonight, we took advantage of that.


"In a tournament like this, you're playing to advance and we'd played real hard the last four or five games and I didn't see that in the first half. But in the second, we really got after it. That really makes us go."


The decision sends the No. 4 seed Norsemen (13-8) into the semifinals against either top-seeded Somonauk or No. 8-seed Kirkland Hiawatha. Hiawatha defeated ninth-seeded Paw Paw 44-35 in Monday's first game and will play the Bobcats tonight at 6 p.m. Serena (10-11) will meet the Bulldogs in a consolation-bracket game at 6 p.m. Thursday at Leland High School.


Despite Gentchev's first-quarter treys and NHS's 4-for-15 shooting, the Huskers hung tough for a while. Sophomore Brady Johnson had four points in the opening period and added six more in the second, the last a runner in the lane with 3:28 left to get the Huskers within 23-21.


But that was not only the last of Johnson's 10 points for the night, it was also Serena's last field goal for over 12 minutes. It wasn't until reserve Adam Pitts converted a three-point play at the 6:37 mark of the fourth that SHS nailed a shot from the floor, having gone 0-for-8 in the third quarter.


By then, Kyle Anderson had awoke from his first-half slumber, sinking 4-of-5 shots in the third for eight points, while Gentchev added five points after returning from a late second-quarter ankle injury.


A 12-footer by Nick Slack early in the fourth capped the decisive 19-4 run that opened up a 52-25 lead.


"When a team zones us and Brady's not hit ting his shots from outside, we're in a hole right away," said Serena coach Jonathan Immel. "He's our only real outside threat, but tonight he was also the only one taking it into the lane. No one else would."


Serena finished shooting just 28.6 percent (14-for-49) from the field, including 0-for-10 from the three-point line. Johnson was the only player to net more than six points, despite going 0-for-8 in his 5-of-14 night.


Jake Debolt chipped in six points and six rebounds.


"We didn't do much right tonight," said Immel. "We didn't rebound well, We didn't shoot well. We didn't defend anyone. We didn't do anything. But the thing that's most disconcerting to me was our effort. We were just asleep and had no effort. We tried bringing guys in off the bench to give us a spark, to wake us up, and they did a little in20the first half. But credit Newark. In the second half, they just took it to us."


Kyle Anderson clicked on six of his last seven shots to finish 6-of-13 for 14 points. Kurt Anderson matched his brother's six caroms and Slack's eight points for Newark, which shot a solid 43.6 percent (24-of-55) and out-boarded Serena 40-28.


SERENA (35) -- Johnson 5-14 0-0 10, Chapman 0-3 1-2 1, DeBolt 2-3 2-4 6, Govednik 1-2 0-0 2, Coyer 1-8 1-2 3, Foreman 1-4 0-1 2, Wiley 0-1 0-0 0, Whalen 3-7 0-0 6, Schleutker 0-2 0-0 0, Pitts 1-2 2-3 4, Morahn 0-2 0-0 0, Garcia 0-1 0-0 0, Vatland 0-01-2 1, Strukel 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 14-49 7-14 35.

NEWARK (63) -- Ky. Anderson 6-13 2-3 14, Avery 3-4 0-0 7, Tollefson 1-4 0-0 3, Ku. Anderson 1-5 6-6 8, Slack 3-9 2-2 8, Gentchev 8-14 0-0 19, Eisnaugle 2-4 0-1 4, Schram 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 24-55 10-12 63.


Serena (10-11)    9   13   3   10 -- 35

Newark (12-8)   13   19 18   13 -- 63

3-point goals -- Serena 0-10 (Johnson 0-8, Chapman 0-1, Whalen 0-1), Newark 5-15 (Gentchev 3-6, Avery 1-1, Tollefson 1-1, Ky. Anderson 0-1, Ku. Anderson 0-1, Schram 0-2, Slack 0-3). Rebounds -- Serena 28 (Chapman 6, DeBolt 6, Coyer 5), Newark 40 (Gentchev 7, Ku. Anderson 6, Ky. Anderson 6). Turnovers -- Serena 13, Newark 10.


H-BR squeaks past LaMoille


H-BR 59, LaMoille 54


The Hinckley-Big Rock boys basketball team moved a game closer to the Little Ten Conference tournament championship game after squeaking out a 59-54 victory over LaMoille Wednesday.


The Royals will face Indian Creek in the second game of a doubleheader at Somonauk Thursday.


Ryan Salazar led Hinckley-Big Rock with 24 points. Brian Michaels scored an additional 12.


Top-seeded Somonauk was awarded a forfeit victory over Kirkland Hiawatha Wednesday in the Little Ten Conference Tournament.


The game originally was scheduled for 4 p.m. Wednesday afternoon. However, Hiawatha canceled classes Wednesday, and due to school policy, the boys basketball team is not allowed to play when school is not in session.


With the win, the Bobcats improved to 18-3 while the Hawks fell to 5-16. Somonauk now will play fourth-seeded Newark today at 6 p.m. in the tournament's semifinals. The game is a rematch of last Friday's 76-74 Norsemen victory in Newark. NHS comes in with a 13-8 record.


LTC consolation games canceled


The two Little Ten Conference Tournament consolation games scheduled to take place at Leland High School on Wednesday were both canceled.


Fifth-seeded Serena received a forfeit victory over No. 9-seed Paw Paw (5-20) and third-seeded Leland-Earlville earned a forfeit win over No. 7-seed LaMoille.




Huskers and Bobcats Meet Again For Title


Bobcats bound into title game

By Brian Hoxsey - Ottawa Times


Somonauk 66, Newark 59


In close games, there are always key moments or plays that turn the tables from one side to the other, and usually they occur in the final minutes.

Such was true in Thursday night's Little Ten Conference Tournament semifinal between top-seeded Somonauk and the No. 4 seed, Newark.


The Bobcats led by as many as 11 points late in the first half, only to see the young Norsemen battle back to take a one-point lead with six minutes to go.


Then came the special moments.


Bobcat senior Mitch Bunkofske nailed back-to-back 3-pointers, the second from well behind the arc, to give the tournament hosts the lead for good. They went on to a 66-59 victory over Newark and a berth in Friday's LTC Tourney championship game.


The Norsemen had defeated the Bobcats by two points nearly a week ago, with Kurt Anderson's pair of free throws in the final seconds throwing the teams into a tie for the regular season crown. Somonauk hadn't played since, with Kirkland Hiawatha forfeiting Wednesday's game.


"I was concerned that we may be a little rusty coming out with not playing for nearly a week," said Bobcats coach Ron Hunt. "I thought we had a better practice before this game than we did last Thursday. It comes down to our boys were focused on winning this game, because one of their goals is to win the conference tournament, something they have not done. It's a championship that they want to have, but you have to be willing to do what it takes. Matt Houghtaylen (12 points) took a charge that nearly broke ribs, it made a statement to our team, 'I'm willing to do it, how about you?'"


Somonauk (19-3) led after the opening eight minutes 18-14, with senior guard Scott Powers netting 11 of his game-high 19 points, while Newark's Drew Tollefson swished three from beyond the arc and freshman John Avery (13 points) added five points including a trey. The Bobcats scored the first four points of the second period to lead 23-14 before Tollefson (1720points) nailed another shot from long range.


"Tollefson was a deadeye," said Hunt. "I think he only had two points against us (last Friday), but tonight he was lights out."


Josh Rivera's old-fashion 3-point play with 2 minutes and 22 seconds left in the first half pushed the Bobcat advantage to 32-21. The Norsemen (13-9) ended the half on a 6-0 run, highlighted by freshman Kyle Anderson's scoring drive in the final seconds, to make it 32-27 heading to intermission.


"We have just been playing so much better," said Newark coach Rick Tollefson. "I don"t think anyone expected us to beat Somonauk, no one expected us to play with them. We are a young team starting three juniors and two freshmen, but it is fun to watch them mature and start to believe in themselves."


"The last three minutes of the first half we did a terrible job (defensively)," Hunt said. "We rolled out to the 3-point arc and opened up the lane, they drove and got to the free throw line and that was bad for us. Being as quick as we are and as experienced as we are, that was just a mental lapse."


The Bobcats led 36-29 early in the third quarter after Steve Weismiller's rebound basket, but the scrappy Norsemen went on a 9-0 run, taking the lead on consecutive hoops by Ivo Gentchev.


Following a couple lead changes and ties, Bunkofske buried a triple with eight seconds on the third quarter clock to give Somonauk a 46-43 lead. A Kyle Anderson rebound hoop, two of his 14 points on the night, at the six minute mark of the final frame gave Newark its final lead at 50-49.


But seconds later, Shayne Peterson sank the first of two free throws and, after he missed the second, Bunkofske (15 points) snared the board and sank a trifecta from the top of the key. A minute later, he did it again.


The Bobcats hit 6-of-9 free tosses in the final to minutes to put the game on ice.


"I thought we played well," coach Tollefson said. "The big play of the game was that missed free throw. Their kid got it, shot the three and put it in. Then we came down and rushed a shot, they went down and got another one and we're down five. Bunkofske, he just torches us. Every time he shoots, you say he's got to miss one. It's tough.


"They are an awful good team. I'm proud of our kids. We came out and gave them a game, and it shows last Friday wasn't a fluke."


NEWARK (59) -- Ku. Anderson 2-12 1-2 5, Slack 1-3 0-0 2, Ky. Anderson 5-11 3-8 14, Avery 4-8 4-4 13, Tollefson 6-10 0-1 17, Gentchev 3-11 1-3 8, Eisnaugle 0-0 0-0 0, Schram 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 21-55 9-18 59.

SOMONAUK (66) -- Powers 7-17 4-5 19, Rivera 2-6 3-5 7, Weismiller 3-4 0-0 6, Peterson 0-5 3-6 3, Josefchuk 2-4 0-0 4, Houghtaylen 5-6 1-1 12, Bunkofske 5-9 0-0 15, Eichas 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 24-52 11-17 66.



Newark (13-9)         14  13  16  16 - 59

Somonauk (19-3)    18  14  14  20 - 66

3-point baskets -- Newark 8-25 (Tollefson 5-9, Avery 1-3, Gentchev 1-3, Ky. Anderson 1-4, Slack 0-2, Ku. Anderson 0-4), Somonauk 7-24 (Bunkofske 5-8, Houghtaylen 1-2, Powers 1-6, Rivera 0-4, Peterson 0-4). Rebounds -- Newark 33 (Avery 8, Ky. Anderson 7), Somonauk 31 (Houghtaylen 7, Powers 5). Turnovers -- Newark 10, Somonauk 9. Total fouls (fouled out) -- Newark 16 (Ku. Anderson), Somonauk 16.


Royals eke out victory

By James Nokes - Daily Chronicle


H-BR 65, Indian Creek 62


The Indian Creek boys basketball team could have given up at halftime.


Hinckley-Big Rock had throttled the Timberwolves in the first half of a Little Ten Conference semifinal game at Somonauk on Thursday.


But instead of packing it in, Indian Creek played defense with relentless intensity and forced the Royals to sweat out a 65-62 win. 


“I knew we weren't out of it at halftime,” said Indian Creek coach Joe Piekarz, even though his team faced a 23-point deficit. “I told them we've got 16 minutes to get ourselves into a championship game.”


The Royals halted the Timberwolves determined comeback attempt when Tim Tokars pulled down an offensive rebound on a missed free throw by Ryan Salazar with five seconds left.


In the end, it was the 46-23 halftime lead the Royals built that proved to be too much for the Timberwolves.


“We played very bad defense in the first half, but they also hit every shot.” Piekarz said. “We got ourselves in such a big hole and it took so much energy to get back in the game that we just ended up a little bit short.”


 H-BR ran off a 19-0 run that spanned the first and second quarters. They appeared to have the game on cruise control until the Timberwolves' second-half rally turned the game into a nail-biter.


 “We had turnovers and dribbled into traps,” H-BR coach Bill Sambrookes said, “Things just seemed to snowball from there, but we moved on and that is the goal.”


H-BR (13-8, 4-2) will play host Somonauk, who downed Newark behind 19 points by Scott Powers, at 8 p.m. Friday for the championship.


H-BR amassed its lead compliments of a defense that kept Indian Creek star Jake Swanson in check. The Royals' defense blanketed the senior guard and forced him into long looks from the perimeter, and just four points at halftime.


But Swanson finally got his offense going in the fourth quarter. The senior guard rang up 15 of his game-high 23 points on an assortment of 3-pointers, layups and short jumpers.


“Jake had a rough three quarters,” Piekarz said. “He stepped up at the end, hit some huge 3s and tur ned some steals into layups and that is what we expect out of him late in the game.”


The Timberwolves (12-10, 3-3) outscored the Roylas 20-9 in the third quarter as Jeremiah Barrett (4 steals) and Freddy Assell (10 points, 5 rebounds) broke into the Royals passing lanes. The deflected passes were enough to disrupt the fast-paced H-BR attack and force the Royals into nine second-half turnovers.


“We wanted to play two games tonight, so we played the halves as two separate games,” Sambrookes jokingly said. “I thought we looked as good as we could in the first half, it was the whole package.”


Salazar led the Royals with 22 points and Brian Michaels added 17 points.


When the Royals offense is on full throttle the pace of the game can be a statistician's nightmare.


H-BR moves quickly into the front court and gets into its offensive sets without any hesitation. The circle cuts and quick pick-and-pop action come quickly.


“It's very fun, it keeps things entertaining,” Salazar said. “I think the fans like it too. We like to play it, that's for sure, it keeps our heads in the game a lot better.”


Salazar would like a repeat of the first half as the Royals look to win their first Little Ten Tournament Title since 2002 on Friday against the Bobcats.


“We were clicking on all cylinders and playing the game at our pace in the first half,” Salazar said. “It was nice having everyone run the way they wanted. We need to play the entire game like we played the first half.”


Indian Creek will play Newark for third place at 6:30 p.m. Friday. Despite being in the consolation game, Piekarz knows the importance of the game after finishing in third last year.


“Wining the third-place game kind of propelled us last season,” Piekarz said. “It was a confidence boost for us, and we started to win a lot more games after that. Tomorrow's game is huge for us.”



Consolation Championship


Serena Tops Leland-Earlville

By Charlie Ellerbrock - Ottawa Times


Serena 49, Leland-Earlville 46


Hey, a title is still a title.


Serena's Brady Johnson broke open a tie game when he converted a putback and two free throws to put the No. 5 seed in front of Leland-Earlville for good.


The Huskers, w inners of the last three Little Ten Conference Tournament championships, then survived two 3-point attempts by the Panthers' Luke Anderson in the final 20 seconds to claim a 49-46 victory and the 89th annual event's consolation title.


Johnson finished with 24 points, 16 of them coming in the second half. The sophomore posted 10 points in a 19-9 third quarter and added six in the fourth, including those tiebreaking scores. The Huskers hit just 6-of-10 from the line in that quarter to keep L-E alive.


"The free throws we missed or the 3s they shot made my heart skip a beat, but the turnovers we kept making came close to making my heart stop," said Serena coach Jonathan Immel. "Missed free throws are going to happen, but turnovers and missed box-outs almost killed us tonight ... Our pressure, after we made an adjustment at halftime, made a difference in the third quarter and we executed well on offense for about three or four minutes. They just took it from us.


"But Brady stepped up and hit some big shots for us. We have to have the ball in his hands, taking the ball to the basket, and he came through for us."


Leland-Earlville, despite having its hot early shooting cooled, bounced back from its eight-point third quarter deficit to tie the game at 35 on a 3-point play by Derek Johnson with 7:12 left in the fourth quarter. But then Johnson's bucket and two tosses broke the deadlock and the last of his points, off a cut through the lane, gave Serena a 47-44 edge with just 1:04 to go.


Anderson got two good looks, one with 18 seconds left and another with just 10 seconds remaining, but couldn't quite get them down. Johnson led the Panthers with 12 points.


"We generally don't like to get in that big of a hurry, but when the game gets like that, the kids like it, I'm sure a lot more than I liked it," joked L-E coach Jerry Pohl. "It didn't matter what we did offensively, we just seemed to find a way not to get the job done. But the kids played hard and we had a good look to tie the game at the buzzer. What more can you do?"


SERENA (49) -- Govednik 1 3-4 5, Chapman 1 4-6 6, Morahn 0 0-0 0, Anliker 0 0-0 0, Whalen 0 0 -0 0, Strukel 0 0-0 0, DeBolt 1 2-3 4, Foreman 0 0-2 0, Vatland 0 0-0 0, Garcia 0 0-0 0, Johnson 8 7-8 24, Wiley 1 0-0 2, Schluetker 0 0-0 0, Coyer 2 1-2 5, Pitts 1 1-2 3. Totals 15 18-27 49.

LELAND-EARLVILLE (46) -- Anderson 1 3-5 6, Becker 0 0-0 0, Johnson 5 1-1 12, Tucker 3 1-1 7, Shumway 0 2-6 2, Mohr 2 0-1 6, Hanley 0 0-0 0, Barnes 0 0-0 0, Adkins 1 1-4 4, Hall 0 1-2 1, Grube 1 0-1 2, Krafft 0 0-0 0, Leifheit 0 1-2 1, Frieders 1 3-6 5. Totals 14 13-29 46.



Serena (12-11)                7    9   19   14 -- 49

Leland-Earlville (11-7)    7  14     9   16 -- 46

3-point goals -- Serena 1 (Johnson 1); Leland-Earlville 5 (Mohr 2, Anderson 1, Johnson 1, Adkins 1).


Third Place Game


Swanson, Indian Creek Proves Too Much For Norsemen

By Brian Hoxsey - Ottawa Times


Indian Creek 75, Newark 65


SOMONAUK -- Playing in a third-place game can be a tough task, having to return to the floor that just the night before you saw hopes of your goal -- a championship -- brush by like a face in the crowd.


Newark was hoping to end the 89th annual Little Ten Conference Tournament on a positive note and take home the third-place trophy, but Indian Creek's Jake Swanson had different ideas. The senior guard poured in 32 points, with one of his six treys the shot that gave the Timberwolves the lead for good midway through the fourth quarter. His play led sixth-seeded Indian Creek defeat the No. 4 Norsemen 75-65 in the battle for third place.


"The kids have to learn that we have to come out with energy," said Newark coach Rick Tollefson. "We have been playing well lately, but it is always a fine line between confidence and overconfidence. We have stepped up and matured, and I have praised them because they have done that. But you still have to bring it every night. The last two nights, we haven't brought the same level of energy that we have in the past."


The teams had split their two previous meetings this season, the most recent Newark's 10-point LTC win at home on Jan. 4. In that tilt, the Norsemen held Swanson to just 11 points.


However, in Friday night's contest, he was about as easy to stop as Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.


Newark (13-10) led 17-12 late in the opening period after 6-foot-8 Matt Eisnaugle's turnaround 10-foot jumper. But T-Wolves junior Matt Davis closed out the first eight minutes by swishing a long trey at the buzzer, then began the second frame with a hoop from almost the same spot.


Over the next few minutes, the lead change hands before Swanson found the range with 13 of his team's final 14 points of the opening half. The young Norsemen were hanging tough behind triples from Ivo Gentchev, Nick Slack and Drew Tollefson, but trailed 38-32 at the intermission.


"(Indian Creek) had a couple kids hit some 3s early from guys we didn't anticipate hitting them," coach Tollefson said. "We got down a little bit early and then Swanson went off. A kid like that, when he is on, what do you do? We put a box-and-one him to start off the second half and got those six points. We were tied and had an opportunity to go ahead, but threw the ball away on a fast break."


Newark junior Kurt Anderson, who scored a team-high 23 points, dropped in on a nice drive to begin the second half. Consecutive layups by freshman John Avery (10 points) tied the game at 38.


However Swanson again came to life. Off back-to-back Newark turnovers, he hit a pair of 3s sandwiched around a Clayton Anderson coast-to-coast layup off a steal as the T-Wolves led 55-50 heading to the final quarter.


After the Norsemen tied the score at 57 on a scooping drive by Kurt Anderson early in the fourth, Swanson worked free at the top of the key and his rainbow struck gold. That gave Indian Creek the lead for good at 60-57 with five minutes to go.


Kyle Anderson (10 points) followed with a short jumper, but IC then put together a 9-0 run ending with Swanson's last bucket of the game with 2:24 left to make it 69-59.


"It seemed like for a quarter and a half we continually shoot ourselves in the foot," said coach Tollefson. "We'd get back in the game then we would miss an easy shot or throw the ball away. I'm still proud of the kids. They played hard and that's what I ask from them."


INDIAN CREEK (75) -- Swanson 11-19 4-6 32, Peterson 1-3 4-6 6, Mitchell 2-8 2-2 7, Assell 3-4 3-4 9, Foster 0-5 2-2 2, C. Anderson 2-5 0-0 4, Davis 2-7 3-4 9, Barrett 2-3 2-2 6. Totals 23-54 20-27 75.

NEWARK (65) -- Ky. Anderson 3-9 2-3 10, Ku. Anderson 8-14 5-5 23, Avery 5-10 0-0 10, Tollefson 2-4 0-1 6, Slack 2-4 0-0 5, Gentchev 2-7 0-0 5, Eisnaugle 3-4 0-0 6, Schram 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 25-52 7-9 65.


Indian Creek (13-10)    15  23  17  20 -- 75

Newark (13-10)            17  15  18  15 -- 65

3-point baskets -- Indian Creek 9-27 (Swanson 6-12, Davis 2-6, Mitchell 1-5, C. Anderson 0-1, Foster 0-3), Newark 8-17 (Ky. Anderson 2-2, Tollefson 2-4, Ku. Anderson 2-5, Slack 1-1, Gentchev 1-3, Avery 0-2). Rebounds -- Indian Creek 33 (Peterson 8), Newark 24 (Ky. Anderson 5). Turnovers -- Indian Creek 14, Newark 15. Total fouls (none fouled out) -- Indian Creek 16, Newark 16.


Championship Game


Mission accomplished for Somonauk

Rebounding, team play lead Bobcats to first LTC Tourney title since 2003

By Charlie Ellerbrock - Ottawa Times


Somonauk 62, Hinckley-Big Rock 48


At Somonauk, goals live on past the soccer season.


The basketball Bobcats, in their third Little Ten Conference Tournament championship game in the last four years, finally reached their goal of winning one of those games, but needed to rebound -- both literally and figuratively -- in order to do it.


After being out rebounded 9-5 in the opening quarter, the Bobcats refocused and out rebounded Hinckley-Big Rock 21-11 over the next two periods, many of those at the offensive end. The resulting second-chance points allowed the top seed to take a seven-point lead at the half and a 15-point lead after three periods on its way to a 62-48 victory and its first LTC tourney crown since 2003.


Scott Powers collected 14 points, eight in the fourth quarter including 6-of-7 shooting from the line. Jared Josefchuk added 13 points, six in a 13-5 third quarter, and Shayne Peterson 10, including big 3-pointers in the middle two periods.


But just as important were two other factors: the seven rebounds by Mitch Bunkofske and six more from Matt Houghtaylen that led Somonauk to a 32-25 edge on the glass, and the defense. While Peterson held red-hot Royals guard Ryan Salazar to just two points in the final three quarters, the Bobcats as a team held H-BR without a field goal for over eight minutes in the middle of the second half.


"We talked to the kids individually before the first week of practice. Some said they want to win state, others said they want to marry a supermodel," joked Somonauk coach Ron Hunt. "But every one said they wanted to win this tournament ... I felt after we played well through our first seven, eight games -- a very tough stretch of the schedule against teams like Putnam County, Genoa-Kingston, Aurora Christian and Immaculate Conception on there -- that we could do this, and the kids showed they could.”


"This is an accomplishment, but we hope this isn't the peak for us. We're still in position to share the conference title and there's the postseason, so there's still a lot of basketball to play. We hope this is just one marker on the way up."


Unselfish play marked the Bobcats' performance throughout, even when it took Powers' buzzer-beating trey to tie the first quarter. Six of the seven players who reached the floor scored points in a 12-2 run that boosted the Somonauk lead to 30-19 at one point.


Josefchuk notched the first six points of the third quarter to stretch the lead to 13. But after H-BR's Patrick Sutherland hit a 15-footer with 4:45 left in the third, cutting the lead to2011, the Royals wouldn't score again from the field until a rebound basket by Brian Michaels at 4:17 of the fourth.


In between, the Royals managed just six free throws and saw the Bobcat lead grow to 49-33. With Powers (6-of-7) and Steve Weismiller (3-of-4) hot at the line in the final quarter, Hinckley would get no closer than 12 the rest of the way.


Somonauk unofficially netted 17 second-chance points in the game.


"One of our goals tonight was to not let them have any second-chance baskets, and I know they had at least three in the first half. That's six points and we were down seven," said H-BR coach Bill Sambrookes. "We wanted to limit Bunkofske's 3s, and he had one where he's averaged four or five a game. That's maybe nine to 12 points that didn't go on the board for them. But we also wanted to keep (Josefchuk) and (Weismuller) from beating us up on the boards, and they did.


"Basically, from the second quarter on, we didn't do a very good job on the boards and that's what hurt us the most."


Michaels tallied 15 points and Ryan Austin 13 for the Royals. The balanced Bobcats had their top seven players score at least four points. Peterson had five assists and Powers four, with Josh Rivera adding three steals.


"It's all just great team chemistry," said Powers. "Everybody gets along, everybody's out there to win, everyone knows their role and will do whatever it takes. Nobody cares who scores the points or who gets their picture in the paper. We're all out there for each other with one job to do, win the game ... And after coming so close the last few years, this sure feels good."


HINCKLEY-BIG ROCK (48) -- Tokars 2-9 1-2 6, Burks 1-4 0-0 2, Austin 6-12 0-2 13, Salazar 2-11 2-2 6, Sutherland 1-1 0-0 2, Michaels 6-12 3-5 15, Korth 2-2 0-1 4, Michael 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-51 6-12 48.

SOMONAUK (62) -- Powers 3-9 6-7 14, Josefchuk 5-8 3-4 13, Rivera 4-8 1-2 9, Weismiller 2-3 3-4 7, Peterson 4-9 0-2 10, Houghtaylen 2-5 0-2 4, Bunkofske 2-2 0-0 5, Miller 0-0 0-0 0, Christopher 0-0 0-0 0, Morsch 0-0 0-0 0, Gottleib 0-0 0-0 0, Peritore 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 22-44 13-21 62.


H-BR (13-9)               13  10   5   20 -- 48

Somonauk (20-3)      13  17  13  19 -- 62

3-point goals -- H-BR 2-16 (Austin 1-5, Tokars 1-6, Michaels 0-1, Burks 0-2, Salazar 0-2); Somonauk 5-15 (Peterson 2-4, Powers 2-8, Bunkofske 1-1, Rivera 0-1, Houghtaylen 0-1). Rebounds -- H-BR 25 (Burks 6); Somonauk 32 (Bunkofske 7, Houghtaylen 6). Turnovers -- H-BR 19; Somonauk 15. Total fouls (fouled out) -- H-BR 21 (Burks, Austin); Somonauk 15 (none).


2007-2008 Final Little Ten Conference Standings
Newark             7-1
Somonauk           7-1
HBR                5-3
IC                 5-3
Serena             4-4
LaMoille           4-4
Leland-Earlville   4-4
Hiawatha           1-7
Paw Paw            0-8
2008 Little Ten All-Conference Team: 

Freshman Kyle Anderson (Newark), seniors Scott Powers (Somonauk), Josh Rivera (Somonauk) and Jake Swanson (Indian Creek) were all unanimous selections. Sophomore Brian Michaels (Hinckley-Big Rock) and junior Ryan Salazar (HBR) were also unanimous selections.

Joining them on the first team are seniors Mitch Bunkofske (Somonauk), Nate Clark (Kirkland-Hiawatha) and Brady Johnson (Serena). Junior Kurt Anderson (Newark) rounded out the all-conference selections.