purple-with-gold clad underdogs pulled off upsets over higher seeded teams sporting white-with-red uniforms Monday, while
the host school held serve in the first night of the Little Ten Conference Boys Basketball Tournament.
ninth-seeded Paw Paw Bulldogs avenged a pair of earlier defeats at the hands of Earlville by knocking off the eighth-seeded
Red Raiders 54-45 for the right to advance into the quarterfinals of the tourney.
Serena, losers to Indian Creek in their previous meeting this year, defeated the Timberwolves 54-51 this time to advance to
the semifinals, and third-seeded Somonauk also advanced to the semis by blowing away Leland 75-25.
Serena 54, Indian Creek 51
Creek led 19-17 after one period and closed the second quarter with an 11-2 run to lead 33-26 at the half. The Huskers tightened
their defense and pulled to within a point, 41-40, at the end of three quarters, setting up a winner-take-all fourth period.
Pinney gave Serena the lead with the first points of the final frame with an assist by Trent Gunderson at . A minute later Pinney put back a rebound to make it 44-41, and Kyle Mason and Dallas Kempiak followed
with field goals, both assisted by Gunderson, to give the Huskers a 48-41 lead with to
play in the game.
Creek shook off the 11-point Serena run (a trey by Kempiak ended the third stanza) and came back with five consecutive points
of its own. Kyle Davis scored a pair of field goals and when Justin Martz made the second of two free throws at 2:27 the score
went to 48-46, Serena.
Huskers pushed their edge to six points on a basket by Gunderson, from Bristol, and
a hoop by Bristol from Gunderson at . Indian Creek's Adam
Huber calmly hit three of three free throws at the 52-second mark, then dropped in two of two foul shots with 16 seconds to
play to make it just a 52-51 Husker lead.
missed a free throw with 13 seconds to go, but Bristol snared the offensive rebound and kept IC on the defensive. The Timberwolves
then trapped Serena on the sideline with seven seconds to play, but the Huskers called timeout before a five-count could cause
the end of the Serena timeout -- when the Huskers set up to inbound the ball -- Indian Creek called time to adjust to the
Serena formation. The Timberwolves probably would have been better off going against what they saw the first time, because
David Pinney's inbound pass found Connor Finley on the foul-lane block and Finley hit the layup to seal the win.
Serena victory was important in itself, but the fact that it was achieved by a Husker team playing without leading-scorer
Corbin Westvig (for disciplinary reasons) has to provide an extra boost.
I thought our kids stepped up their game and found ways to score," said Serena coach Randy Goodbred. "We never let them get
too far away from us. Whenever we needed a big basket, a different guy stepped forward. Chris Vaughan hit a shot, Trent Gunderson
hit a shot, Matt Bristol hit a shot, I can name almost all of them. Dallas Kempiak got us going in the first part of the game
and Connor Finley, Jake Naggs and Kyle Mason all had good games. David Pinney played really well. They all did something at
an important time when we needed it. That should give them a lot of confidence, and I think it will. It shows that they have
good character and they played hard.
thought tonight we out-played them and we out-worked them, and that was the key for us. Our man defense with good help defense
was our bread and butter tonight. We did a lot of good things. They beat us 53-51, so we're very evenly matched. The kids
who played well tonight struggled up there, but we showed some progress. Individuals and our defense are getting better."
led Serena in scoring with 15 points and in rebounding with seven boards. Kempiak scored 13 and was tops in steals with four
thefts, while Gunderson hit for seven points and handed out eight assists.
Creek had three players in double-figures, led by Kyle Davis with 18 points to go with a team-high four steals and three assists.
Nathan Yaggie scored 12 and Adam Huber added 11 points. Justin Martz was the leading rebounder with 10 caroms.
baskets -- IC 2 (Huber, Yaggie); Serena 3 (Kempiak, Gunderson, Finley). Rebounds (team leaders) -- IC 26 (Martz 10); Serena
26 (Pinney) 7, Bristol 6). Assists (team leaders) -- IC 9 (Davis 3); Serena 20 (Gunderson 8). Steals
(team leaders) -- IC 5 (Davis 4); Serena 11 (Kempiak 4). Turnovers -- IC 17; Serena 15. Team fouls (fouled out) -- IC 15 (Martz);
Serena 19 (none).
Somonauk 75, Leland 25
Bobcats opened the game with an 8-0 run, gave up two points, scored five, gave up two and finished the first period with nine
in a row to lead 22-4 at the end of the first quarter. That pretty well set the tone of this contest.
played the first 10 minutes without committing a single turnover, while forcing Leland to give up the ball on the Panthers'
first three possessions.
second period ended with a three-pointer by Nick Woody at the buzzer, giving the Bobcats a 38-15 halftime lead.
pair of free throws by Somonauk's Jim Johnson opened the scoring in the third period. Justin Kossak put back a rebound and
followed with a three-pointer to boost the Somonauk lead to 45-15 before Leland broke into the second-half scoring column
on a rebound put-back by Rick Crissip.
the mark Darvil Hayes started another Somonauk run by dropping in a trey, then
scoring on a drive in the lane. A fastbreak basket by Woody and a rebound hoop by Hayes were followed by Johnson scoring off
a feed from Brett Smith and another three by Kossak to complete a 14-point surge for the Bobcats. Once again, Crissip broke
the string with a bucket at , making it a 59-19 score. Kossak added another three, Alex Adrian made two
foul shots and Kossak scored to end the third period with Somonauk in front 66-19.
thought we passed the ball really well and this was one of our better offensive outings," said Somonauk coach Joe Hamilton.
"We shot well. We were unselfish and every shot we took, we were wide-open. When we went inside, our post players dished it
out to our guards for three-pointers, and a lot of the time, that doesn't happen. Defensively, we played an aggressive 2-3
zone. We knew Shumway and Crissip were their two shooters, so we wanted to find them in the zone and contest their shot and
maybe double-team them and not give any offensive rebounds.
is kind of a zone-breaker, and that's why tonight he got the start. Nick Woody shot the ball reasonably well. Most of his
points came off of steals and layups at the other end. He's real aggressive in our tough zone defense."
led all scorers with 23 points, followed by Woody with 17, Hayes with nine and Johnson with eight. Smith was the leading rebounder
and assist-man with nine and six respectively, while Adrian led Somonauk in steals with
Shumway scored eight points and had three assists, leading Leland in both departments. Crissip had six points and took rebounding
honors with six boards.
won the first two meetings between these schools, but Paw Paw had been getting closer every time, falling by 10 on Dec. 1
(53-43) and just six (49-43) on Jan. 9.
time, the Bulldogs finally got over the hump.
playing to a 10-10 draw in the first quarter, Paw Paw won each of the remaining three quarters to move to 4-15 on the season
and into the tournament quarterfinals against top-seeded H-BR.
kids continue to hustle and play hard, which is sometimes hard to do this time of year when you record isn't great," Paw Paw
coach Galen Noard said. "Jared Nicholson did an outstanding job on defense for us as well."
Romanski led the Bulldogs wtih 20 points and eight rebounds, while Paul Prawdzik added 14 points. Earlville (3-15) was paced
by 18 points from Tony Ayala.
The bruised, battered and
burned Newark Norsemen got just what they needed in their game against LaMoille at the Little Ten Conference Boys Basketball
Tournament Tuesday night: A decisive early lead and no more injuries.Paw Paw's
game with Hinckley-Big Rock was also decided early and that wasn't good for the Bulldogs who bowed out of the tourney with
a 1-1 record.
Newark 77, LaMoille 49
Newark (13-8) started the season with a short roster. These days its looking even
David Thanepohn, who coach
Dale Skelton estimates is at 50 percent with an injured a knee, hobbled his way into the starting lineup and finished with
Fellow starter Ron Poplawski
was not as nearly as lucky. He recently suffered a freak hand injury and did not dress for the game.
No matter, Matt Akre made
all six shots he took in the first half and helped his team build a 37-12 lead by the intermission. Akre combined some fastbreak
chances with three 3-pointers and scored 15 by halftime en route to a 17-point game. He led Newark with eight rebounds.
Newark handled LaMoille (7-14) and its zone, making 15 of 23 from the field in the
And the Norsemen were strong
on defense as well, holding LaMoille to four field goals in the first two quarters and forcing 13 turnovers.
"First half, I was real
pleased," said Skelton. "I thought that was a nice half of basketball for us at both ends of the floor. We didn't do any pressing,
we didn't need to. We were very consistent and had good position both on the offensive and defensive ends of the floor."
Play was much looser in
the second half. LaMoille won the third quarter, 21-19 as the Lions were able to more than double their total number of baskets
from the first half.
But Newark's cushion held until the final buzzer with the benches emptied during the fourth quarter.
The win propels Newark into a rematch with Somonauk Thursday at The Norsemen won their earlier meeting
in Newark, but that was with Poplawski in the lineup, before he burned his hand a few
days ago in a cooking accident in a foods class.
"I hope Ronnie is ready
for Thursday, he's still got to talk the doctor into it. If anybody can do it, Ronnie can," added Skelton. "We would definitely
need him Thursday night against a very good Somonauk team. I know they play a very good zone and that they are very aggressive.
Sometimes you need that shooting edge and Ronnie gives that to us."
Dane Sleezer could be a
factor Thursday if Poplawski isn't ready to go. He started Tuesday and riddled LaMoille for 21 points, hunting down the Lions
in the open court. Eric Andersen also had a strong game for Newark with 19 points and Tim Gunier
Paw Paw coach Galen Noard
had his players concentrating on H-BR's leading scorer senior Tyler Klotz. But Klotz virtually took the night off with just
3 points, allowing Ryan Michael to take center stage.
Michael, a junior, stormed
into the spotlight with 18 points by halftime and a game-high 29 on four 3-pointers and a pair of dunks.
The Royals (13-6) tuned
up for their semifinal meeting with Serena at Thursday by shooting 67 percent (30
of 45) from the field.
"They shot awfully well,
I'm not sure they shoot that well all the time," said Noard. "They shot well even when we had a hand up in their face. And
they take the ball to the basket, too.
"We needed an officiating
crew that called hand checks and reaches and stuff and these guys weren't going to do that and we don't adjust very well when
that happens. Our kids hustled but they don't have the skill level. That skill level isn't going to be reached during the
season, it can only be built up during the off-season. Until we do, we're going to continue to be the doormats like we are
in the conference."
Rob Romanski led Paw Paw
(4-16) with 17 points. Jared Nicholson drained a pair of threes and ended with 13. Twenty-two turnovers hurt the Bulldogs
as did 34.2 percent shooting (12 of 35).
During its worst shooting
quarter of the night, top-seeded Hinckley-Big Rock padded its lead and made a comeback impossible for Serena in the semifinals
Thursday at the Little Ten Conference Tournament.
In the other semifinal,
Newark withstood a fourth-quarter charge by host Somonauk and got past the Bobcats.
Hinckley-Big Rock 75, Serena 50
A window of opportunity
opened for the the Huskers when H-BR came up empty in its first 10 shots of the second half only adding a point to its 38-27
halftime lead on a free throw, "and we got nothing," observed Serena coach Randy Goodbred. "We got stopped or we turned it
over or whatever. There's the game. You've got to try and do something and we didn't. They caught a little fire at the end
of the third and finished us off in the fourth."
That window slammed shut
in the Huskers faces as they turned the ball over twice, made just one shot in seven tries, and added a pair of free throws
to pull within eight before Kody O'Donnell made a 3-point basket that ended the Royals' drought.
Hinckley-Big Rock then
went on a 14-8 run to stretch its lead to 56-39 to set up a fourth quarter that was largely about getting bench players some
playing time, despite only making 5 of 20 from the floor in the third quarter.
Serena switched between
man-to-man and zone to deal with the taller Royals on the inside, while trying hold down H-BR sharpshooters like O'Donnell
and Tyler Koltz on the outside.
Neither defense worked
very well. The Royals made 16 of 28 to build their 11-point edge by the intermission.
"We didn't stop them in
the first half," added Goodbred. "I thought they shot extremely well. Some of their shots they hit without someone with a
hand in their face, and some they did.
"We ran up against a better
team is what it amounted to as far as their shooting and our inability to finish. They have a much deeper offensive group
than what we have, especially from the perimeter. But I'm proud of our kids, they did cause one upset (over Indian Creek Monday)
and we were hoping we could get the second. Our goal is to come back and try to get third Friday night."
Klotz led H-BR with 22.
O'Donnell scored 18 and Ryan Michael tossed in 16.
Corbin Westvig led Serena
with 16 points. David Pinney chipped in with 13.
The Bobcats got within
eight points several times in the fourth quarter after spotting Newark a 45-31 lead
going in. But it never happened for the defending LTC tourney champs
"We were fortunate to overcome
a very tenacious and scrappy Somonauk club," said Newark coach Dale Skelton.
Dane Sleezer led the way
for Skelton's crew with 20 points, scoring from a variety of places on the floor and going 8 of 11 from the foul line.
"Dane has knack for doing
that. He can find a way to score. He can do it all, he's a nice ball player and he plays hard defense. He's come a long way
this year. We knew that this was going to be a battle coming in. We beat Somonauk pretty good last time (53-33, Dec. 12) but
we knew that we weren't that much better than they were. We were fortunate to get the 10- to 12-point lead where it never
got close enough where the pressure would really hit us," added Skelton.
Sophomore Ron Poplawski
returned to service for the Norsemen and sank a pair of 3-pointer despite missing action for the first part of the week with
a burned left hand, an injury he suffered in foods class.
Newark got 9 points from David Thanepohn and 8 from Matt Akre.
Brett Smith paced Somonauk
with 17 points while Nick Woody added 10. It was not enough to fight back into the lead.
"Our kids didn't give up,"
said Somonauk coach Joe Hamilton. "They got down 14 or 15 and we got it to seven and then we had a layup at the end that could
have cut it to five, but we would have lost anyway there were only seven seconds left.
"We thought we had six
or seven shots from one or two feet in that we didn't get to fall which has been our nemesis all year. We've just got to get
those to fall. We're having a lot of problems with our easy ones."
SOMONAUK (48) - Smith 5 5-7 17, Woody 4 0-0 10, Johnson
3 3-5 9, Napolitano 3 0-1 6, Adrian 1 0-0 3, Hayes 1 0-0 3, Kossak 0 0-0 0. Total 17 8-12 48.
Three-point baskets - Somonauk
6 (Woody 2, Smith 2, Adrian 1, Hayes 1), Newark 5 (Sleezer 2, Poplawski 2, Slack 1). Team fouls (fouled out) - Somonauk 18,
Norsemen capture LTC crown; Serena bounces back for third
By BRENT ROBINSON, Ottawa Times
Their task was simple:
All the Serena Huskers had to do was bounce back from a tough 25-point loss less that 24 hours earlier and beat the Somonauk
Bobcats on their home floor to claim third place at the Little Ten Conference Tournament Friday night.
Serena proved it enjoys
a challenge as it played 32 minutes of gritty defense and posted a 60-45 victory.
But it was the Newark Norsemen
who cut down the nets on Friday night. Behind 21 points from David Thanepohn and 20 from Eric Anderson they held off the Hinckley-Big
Rock Royals, 62-46 for the tournament championship.
Serena 60, Somonauk 45
The host Bobcats will see
Huskers swiping at the ball in their sleep. And the face they'll see the most, on defense as well as offense, is that of Corbin
The Serena senior had a
game-high 20 points. And when it mattered the most, he had the most, scoring 12 in the fourth quarter. Westvig also led his
teammates with five steals, eight assists and eight rebounds.
His ability to drive into
the heart of the Somonauk (13-8) defense and find fellow Huskers with meaty passes got the rest of the Serena (9-12) roster
involved in the game from the first quarter on as Serena went up, 17-8. His drives into the heart of the defense also drove
a steak into the heart of the Bobcats who fell behind by nine after the first quarter, and only made one meaningful run at
That run came early in
the second quarter when the Bobcats cut the Huskers lead to 17-15, threatening to negate all of Serena's good work. But the
Huskers had an answer. Trent Gunderson reentered the game and found David Pinney with an entry pass that the junior turned
into a layup. From there, Serena regained its footing and momentum for the remainder of the first half with an 11-3 run.
For the night, Serena held
the defending tournament champs under 40-percent shooting (16 of 41) and had a hand(s) in 22 Bobcat turnovers.
"I thought our defensive
effort was tremendous," Serena coach Randy Goodbred said. "A lot of it was just hard work. It was hard to bounce back after
we kind of limped into the end of that game last night. But tonight I didn't think our kids showed any sign of letting down
and it was one of our better games of the year, without a doubt.
"I'm speechless. Tonight
it was a complete game. We disrupted a lot of the things they were trying to do, by design or not. We came up with so many
loose balls and deflections, we seemed to be everywhere tonight.
While getting its fourth
win in its last six games, Goodbred and Westvig had help as three other Huskers scored in double digits with 10 each: sophomore
Dallas Kempiak, Pinney, and senior Matt Bristol. Jon Napolitano led Somonauk with 12 points and Nick Woody scored 10.
SOMONAUK (45) - Hayes 1 0-0 3, Kessler 1 0-0 2, Woody
4 1-1 10, Kossak 2 0-0 6, Smith 2 0-2 4, Napolitano 5 2-2 12, Adrian 0 3-4 3, Johnson 1 2-2 5.
Totals 16 8-11 45.
Serena (9-12) 17 11 15 17 - 60
Somonauk (13-8) 8 10
11 16 - 45
Three-point baskets - Serena
2 (Westvig 2), Somonauk 5 (Kossak 2, Hayes 1, Woody 1, Johnson 1). Team fouls (none fouled out) - Serena 10, Somonauk 12.
Newark 62, Hinckley-Big Rock 46
Take out a three-minute
stretch at the end of the third quarter and the No. 2-seeded Norsemen controlled the No. 1-seeded Royals for the entirety
of the title game.
Hinckley-Big Rock (14-7)
spotted Newark (15-8) a 20-5 lead at the beginning. The Norsemen took a 31-14 into the locker
room for halftime and were up 42-23 with showing when H-BR coach Bill Sambrookes
called a timeout.
The Royals stormed out
of the break and assembled an 11-0 run using three 3-point baskets as fuel, and adding some drama to the impending fourth
But H-BR quickly ran out
of fuel, missing five straight shots, and not getting any closer to the Newark in the
first four minutes of the fourth quarter.
The Norsemen played brilliant
defense the entire game, holding the H-BR perimeter game in check while keeping the Royals off the offensive boards.
"You couldn't draw up a
better scenario for us, having lost to them earlier," Newark coach Dale Skelton said
of his team's quick start. "Our whole focus for the ball game tonight was defense. If we came out here and just tried to outscore
them, we were going to lose. We had them a little frustrated and they missed a few shots that they usually make."
Along with Thanepohn and
Anderson, Matt Akre scored eight and Dane Sleezer seven for Newark. Tyler Klotz paced H-BR
with 15 points.