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Huskers Win Championship, Norsemen Take Third Place

 Royals fall short of Little Ten crown

  • Serena claims title with 62-43 conquest

By Greg Burks - DeKalb Daily Chronicle

Somonauk- It was a night of tough luck for Hinckley-Big Rock High School in the championship game of the Little Ten Conference Tournament. The Royals couldn’t find their rhythm and lost to an intense Serena High School crew, 62-43.

In Friday’s third-place game, Newark High School routed Earlville High School, 77-38.

The title game was a game of catch-up for the Royals, much like their semifinal win over Earlville. However, the result was different against the Huskers, who took a 31-19 halftime lead and never let Hinckley-Big Rock (8-12) back to within single digits.

After Serena (16-5) took a 19-12 lead with two minutes left in the first quarter, Mike Phillips caught a baseball pass from Nate Viland and scored to give the Royals some momentum going into the second quarter. But the Huskers countered with two quick buckets to start the second frame and outscored H-BR 12-5 for the quarter.

It wasn’t Serena’s scoring that upset H-BR coach Bob Barnett, it was how the Huskers scored. Midway through the quarter, Serena grabbed an offensive rebound and put it back for two points on four straight possessions.

I had them for 10 offensive boards and six put backs in the first half. That’s 12 points right there,” Barnett noted with frustration.

Many of those offensive rebounds were by Eric Schrader, who finished with 11 boards and 12 points. The Huskers received their usual 21 points from Jake Finley, arguably the MVP of the tournament. Dain Twait scored 11 and controlled the tempo from his point-guard position.

Things didn’t get better for H-BR to start the second half, as Serena scored the first seven points of the quarter. The Royals managed to claw back into the game with a 16-7 run to end the third quarter, pulling to within ten at 45-35. Adam Richards scored 12 of his team-high 18 points in the third period.

However, thoughts of a Royal comeback were scrapped when Serena scored the initial six points of the fourth quarter to take a 51-35 lead and control of the game. “It takes too much energy to come back like that,” said Barnett. “They had three seniors on the floor that knew what to do.”

Kriss Schrader scored 11 points for the Royals, but nine of those were in the first half. It was a good tournament for both teams, considering that neither of them were expected to make the title game. Serena was seeded third and Hinckley-Big Rock was seeded fourth.

Nobody expected us to do anything in this tournament and we’re a team of juniors,” said Barnett.

This is for all the Serena people that have been waiting since 1981” said coach Randy Goodbred. “These kids brought everything they had tonight.”

The Royals’ second place finish is nothing new. They have played in the tournament’s title game six times within the last eight years. The lone championship in that span was in 1996. The two teams will meet again on Feb. 18 at Hinckley-Big Rock High School. It could be a crucial game, considering that both schools are 6-1 in conference play.

The best thing about tonight is that we get them again in two weeks” said Barnett.

The third place game was controlled by Newark (15-7), as the Norsemen cruised behind a tournament-high 27 points from Justin Carlson. Earlville (7-13) was playing without center Ben Erwin (19 ppg), who was nursing a sore back.

Leading 24-13 at the break, Newark hit eight three-pointers in the third quarter and outscored EHS, 37-10, to take a commanding 61-23 lead. Jeff Eddy scored 12 for Newark, while Nathan Fruit scored 14 for Earlville.

(8) Earlville 62, (9) Paw Paw 37

(7) Malta 60, (10) LaMoille 45


(4) Hinckley-Big Rock 49, (5) Leland 36

(3) Serena 58, (6) Somonauk 53


(8) Earlville 59, (1) Indian Creek 43

(2) Newark 74, (7) Malta 43




(4) Hinckley-Big Rock 63, (8) Earlville 56

(3) Serena 68, (2) Newark 60




(2) Newark 77, (8) Earlville 38




(3) Serena 62, (4) Hinckley-Big Rock 43


Final 1999-2000 Little Ten Conference Standings


                    W   L

Hinckley-Big Rock   8   1

Indian Creek        8   1

Newark              7   2

Serena              7   2

Somonauk            5   4

Leland              4   5

Earlville           2   7

Malta               2   7

Paw Paw             2   7

LaMoille            0   9



Little Ten All-Conference Boys Basketball Team for 1999-2000 season


* Dustin Spears, Indian Creek, Senior 6-foot-4 Forward : Two-time All-LTC.  He was named the Timberwolves most valuable player after averaging 19.1 points per game and 9.2 rebounds per game.


* Jordan Swanson, Indian Creek, Senior 6-foot-1 Guard : Two-time All-LTC.  He averaged 15.4 points per game and 7.1 rebounds a game for the Timberwolves.


* Dain Twait, Serena, Senior 6-foot Guard : Two-time All-LTC.  Scored 15.0 points per game for the Huskers and led team in steals and assists.


* Jake Finley, Serena, Senior 6-foot-3 Forward : He led Huskers with 23.0 points per game and was named club’s most valuable player.


* Justin Carlson, Newark, Senior 6-foot-2 Forward : Two-time All-LTC.  He averaged 18.0 points per game, 6.7 rebounds per game and hit 57-percent of his field goal tries.


Jeff Eddy, Newark, Junior 6-foot-1 Guard : Scored 12.8 points per game for the Norsemen and hit 50-pecent of his shots from the floor.


Matt Grandgeorge, Somonauk, Junior Guard : Led the Bobcats with 16.0 points per game.


Joel Thomas, Leland, Junior 6-foot-1 Guard : Led the Panthers in scoring (13.0 ppg), rebounds and steals.


* Ben Erwin, Earlville, Senior 6-foot-4 Forward : Led Red Raiders in scoring (18.7 ppg) and rebounding (9.5 rpg).


Chad Pecka, Malta, Sophomore 6-foot-1 Guard : Voted Mustangs Co-MVP, led team in scoring (24.2 ppg) and was a state qualifier in three-point shootout.


* - Unanimous selection


Note: Hinckley-Big Rock, although LTC Co-Champions had no players selected to team.  The Royals had a young team (one senior, Drew Fickau, and he missed about half the season) and they were very balanced.  No one player really stood out above the rest, but several players did receive votes.