By Steve Robinson | January 20, 2020 - 10:32 pm
Posted in Category: St. Louis Cardinals, The Normalite

BLOOMINGTON – Central Illinois may be facing another winter at the moment, but St. Louis Cardinals fans got a jump on thinking about spring and summer thanks to a visit with a mix of veteran and newcomer players when the team’s annual St. Louis Cardinals Caravan rolled through town on Saturday, stopping at the Parke Regency Hotel and Conference Center.

Three Generations Of Rosendale Family Take In Event: For father and son Bob and Jake Rosendale, love of baseball was something that has been passed down. And Jake Rosendale is now watching as his daughter, Shelby, and son, Tyler, carry on the family tradition of rooting for the boys from St. Louis. Bob said he has been a Cardinals fan since he was a boy, when fans could find guys like pitchers Curt Simmons and Curt Flood, and outfielders Al Dark and Del Ennis on a lineup card. Jake Rosendale said he and his dad and kids have attended a number of Cards Caravan events since the team put the Twin Cities back in their rotation.

Tyler, a Northpoint Elementary School sixth grader said he likes the Cards because of the loyalty he sees players showing the team. “The team is just really cool,” Shelby, a Kingsley Junior High School eighth grader, added.

“Doing this and going to games teaches the kids about being a fan and to enjoy the athletes that are out there and the atmosphere when you’re at the ballpark,” Jake Rosendale explained.

The Rosendales, however, were missing one member of the family at this event who, clearly, does not share loyalty for the Cardinals the way the folks who came to this event do. That missing member would be Jake’s wife, Tricia. She was not at this event because, for you see, she is a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan, Jake explained.

Young Fans Begin The Questioning: Third baseman and outfielder Tommy Erdman, Pitchers Daniel Ponce De Leon and Matthew Libertore, and Cards minor league infielder Nolan Gorman appeared during this visit to whet baseball appetites of 300 Cards faithful, young and old alike. In addition to current players, fans also got visit and get autographs from Cardinals alums Kyle McClellan and Bernard Gilkey, who also came along for this leg of the trip. Players were introduced and asked follow-up questions by Cardinals broadcaster Mike Claibourne. Members of Illinois State University’s baseball team also were present for this event.

“How great was last season?,” asked the emcee for the event, WJBC personality Marc Strauss asked fans to begin the 90-minute session, reminding the crowd the Cards won the Central Division title last season, not to mention making the postseason for the fifth time in nine years. The crowd responded with applause having been witness to their favorite team winning the National League Divisional Series 3 games to 2 over Atlanta, but falling to Washington in the NL championship series.

Youthful fans sat on the floor in front of the dais the players gathered at as the questioning of players about the upcoming season began. The first question came from a young fan who wanted to know who the team thought would make the bigs first, either Matthew Rutherford or Gorman. Gorman diplomatically said he hoped both he and Rutherford would arrive to play for St. Louis “on the same day.” The diplomatic answer drew applause from the gathering.

Another young fan asked Erdman what it was like to hit his first major league grand slam, as he did at Cincinnati in July. “It was a great feeling to run around the bases after that hit,” Erdman responded. That hit was just one of 11 homers Erdman hit last season contributing to a season where he had 99 hits including 17 doubles and 35 extra base hits since getting promoted to the majors in early June. He started in 75 of 92 games last season and led the team with 32 hits.

Another fan asked about, upon finding out they were being called up to the majors, who did players call and break the news to first. Gorman said he contacted his wife. “It was a cool moment for me, but only thing was I found out when I was playing catch. And since it was the first day of spring training, I couldn’t to the locker room to call my wife or anybody. So I told my teammates and then my parents.”

To the same question, Ponce De Leon said he contacted his father. Upon hearing the news, he said, “My father just started screaming. He said, ‘Woooooooo.’ You could hear him drop the phone and run around the house. He told my mom and it was pretty cool because he was, like, my number one fan.”

“I called my wife and my parents,” explained Edman. “Fortunately, they were all able to come out to Chicago. We had a crew of 10 or 15 people there.”

Gilkey said the reaction to the news when he called his folks was his parents. “My mom answered the phone and she was who I told first. She was totally elated by the news,” he explained, adding that when his father got on the line, he renewed the feeling he had about his son being able to make the big leagues. “He said, instead of telling me how happy he was, he went into a long schpeel about when I started playing in little league and told me then he thought I could make it.”

McLellan admitted to being nervous when he first took the mound as a major leaguer with St. Louis in a game against Colorado in 2008. His career lasted six seasons, ending with his retirement from the game in 2013 playing for the Texas Rangers.

Libertore said his trade from the Tampa Bay Rays to the Cardinals took, in reality, 25 minutes to transpire. He said he was going through workouts when the call came and after checking with his agent, called his father to alert him to it. “I am super happy to be here,” he told attendees.

BLOOMINGTON – When the brackets for the Small School Girls’ Division at the State Farm Bloomington-Normal Holiday Tournament were first posted, fans of University High School’s girls’ basketball team, seeded fifth, probably felt their team would do well, but possibly would run into problems against higher seeded teams. As the four-day tournament progressed, head coach Laura Sellers’ team faced three of four teams with single-digit seeds and emerged as the Small School Bracket Champion for this year by coming from behind to beat third seed and previously unbeaten Brimfield, 49-39, at Shirk Center on Illinois Wesleyan University’s campus Dec. 30.

But as the contest began, Brimfield (16-1), behind a trio of unanswered deuces from junior guard Haley Wallace, jumped out to a fast 6-0 lead following the opening tip. A Pioneers bucket by senior guard Logan Murray reduced that lead to 6-2. A pair of free throws by Brimfield junior forward Ella Lune pushed the Lady Indians up, 8-2. But U-High scored a deuce and a trey back-to-back soon after, with senior forward Chelsie Price scoring first followed by Murray adding to the total to pull U-High within one, 8-7 at the 4:11 mark in the opening quarter.

Brimfield went on a 6-0 unanswered run of their own, topped off by a basket from sophomore forward Sophie Bedell, giving the Lady Indians a 12-9 lead. A deuce and free throw by Lune pushed Brimfield out in front, 15-9 with 1:40 left in the opening quarter, but the Pioneers cut that lead, 15-11, on two free throws by junior guard Chloe Ward with 1:26 left in the quarter. Brimfield owned a 17-11 advantage to open the second quarter thanks to a bucket by Wallace.

U-High (10-6 after this game) opened the second quarter on a 6-0 spurt with a deuce each from sophomore guard Naomi Elliott and junior guard Alexis Noonan before Murray sank a trey to give the Pioneers their first lead of the contest, 18-17, with 5:49 remaining. Lune hit a pair of unanswered deuces to put Brimfield up by three, 21-18. Murray responded with a deuce to pull U-High within one, 21-20, with two minutes remaining. Wallace countered to put Brimfield up, 23-20. But then, Lune fouled Murray as she was in the process of shooting from behind the three-point line. As a result, Murray hit a trio of free throws and Price closed out the quarter with a deuce to put U-High up by two at the half, 25-23.

Noonan opened the second half with a deuce for the Pioneers to expand U-High’s lead, 27-23. Brimfield’s Wallace and U-High junior forward Kassidy Patton exchanged buckets, followed by a pair of baskets, one from Lune and one from senior forward Ella Cagwin, knotting the game at 29-29. U-High senior guard Emma Harding’s trey midway through the quarter gave the Pioneers a 32-29 advantage and prompted Pioneers’ Sellers to call a time out. Coming out of that timeout, Price hit another basket, increasing U-High’s lead, 34-29 with 3:26 left in the quarter. Brimfield head coach Maribeth Dura called timeout at that point to assess her team’s situation. Coming out of the timeout, Wallace hit a layup for Brimfield and was followed by back-to-back buckets for U-High from Price and Noonan, giving the Pioneers a 38-31 lead going into the fourth quarter.

U-High’s Murray and Brimfield sophomore forward Sophie Bedell exchanged deuces to open the fourth quarter, with the Pioneers in front, 40-33 with 6:13 left in the contest. A foul by Lune sent Price to the free throw line where she sank 1-of-2, increasing the Pioneers’ advantage, 41-33 at the 3:56 mark. Wallace followed for Brimfield hitting a deuce, cutting the Pioneers’ lead to six, 41-35, with 1:45 remaining. From there, Lady Indians fouls sent Ward to the free throw line twice, and Lune, Murray and senior guard Emma Harding once each. Combined, those shooters went 6-for-7 to give U-High a 47-35 lead.

Harding fouled Cagwin as she tried to shoot from beyond the three-point line, putting her at the line for three shots which she made with 15.7 seconds left, reducing U-High’s lead, 47-38. But Cagwin would then foul Ward with 9 seconds left. Ward would sink both shots giving U-High a 49-38 lead. Fouled by Pioneers sophomore guard Naomi Elliott, Cagwin would go 1-for-2 at the line for Brimfield’s final points, resulting in the final score.

Murray led U-High’s scoring with 15 points including two treys. She was followed in double-digits by Price’s 11. Wallace and Lune led Brimfield’s scoring effort, pocketing 16 points and 15 points, respectfully.

“We had the chance to be the aggressor defensively and those experiences paid off,” Sellers said afterward about part of U-High’s strategy. “When you play four games in four days, sometimes the last game isn’t the best game. I think both teams were getting after it and making it hard for the other to score and it became a defensive battle in the third quarter.”

“We really focus on our defense, and our biggest thing is if we can down, then we don’t have to worry about scoring as much,” explained Price.

“U-High is very physical, and we don’t normally see that,” admitted Dura following the game. “We knew they’d be physical. We thought we had a pretty good physical game going against Rochester the other day, but U-High just came out and played their hard-nosed defense. U-High is really good about being patient against opponents, so I think their possessions are very long, and I think we weren’t as patient.”

Pioneers Advance To Championship With Semi-final Win Over Rock Falls, 42-27: The win over the Spartans placed U-High in a semi-final in the bracket against top seed Rock Falls on Dec. 28. But the Lady Rockets discovered early they were in for a fight against U-High and it turned out to be a fight they couldn’t win. U-High led early and throughout the contest, with leads of 8-2 at the end of the first quarter and 19-7 at the half. The third quarter was the only one Rock Falls achieved scoring double-digits in, but U-High still outpaced them during that stanza, 13-12. Going into the fourth quarter, the Pioneers owned a 32-19 advantage. That win set them up to take on the Lady Indians for the Small School Girls’ bracket title on Dec. 30. Murray and Price led Pioneers’ scoring, with 17 and 15, respectfully. Junior guard Abi Peyton was the lone Lady Rockets player in double-figures with 13 points.

Second Round Victory Over St. Joseph-Ogden, 41-35: The final score of the Pioneers’ second round contest might not indicate it, but Sellers’ team’s defense prevented any 4th seeded St. Joseph-Ogden players from scoring in double-figures. What’s more, U-High trailed the Spartans after one quarter, 17-8, and 26-16 at the half. A 13-2 third quarter onslaught by the Pioneers gave U-High a 29-28 lead going into the fourth quarter where the Pioneers continued to overtake their opponents resulting in the victory. U-High’s Price led all scorers with 12 points followed in double-figures by Elliott who scored 10 points which included one trey and seven free throws in 12 tries at the line. Junior forward Payton Vallee served as St. Joseph-Ogden’s high scorer pocketing 9 points.

Pioneers Outpace Rockford Lutheran For First Round Win, 45-30: The Pioneers got their tournament off to a positive start by winning their opening round game against 12th seed Rockford Lutheran, 45-30. The Pioneers led throughout, 9-6 at the end of the first quarter, 23-12 at halftime, and 36-26 by the end of the third quarter. Patton led the Pioneers in scoring with 14 points followed by Price who scored 11 to boost their team into the second round against 4th seed St. Joseph-Ogden.

NORMAL – University High School’s boys’ basketball team, seeded 7th when the State Farm Bloomington-Normal Holiday Classic tournament started the day after Christmas finished in 7th place on the third day of the tourney with a 66-32 victory over Machesney Park Harlem on Dec. 28 in a game played at Normal Community West High School.

U-High extended their record to 8-5 following the win, which included owning leads of 14-4 after one quarter and 26-8 at the half. The Pioneers, behind lead scorer junior forward Angelo Bernal’s 15 points on the night, extended that lead to 49-21 by the end of the third quarter. U-High sank 11 three-pointers during the contest. Bernal was joined in double-figures by senior guard Drew Wollenschlager’s 13 points and 11 from sophomore guard D. J. Starr. This game was the second of two Dec. 28 starting with the contest against Peoria High.

Pioneers Force Overtime Against Peoria High: U-High found themselves facing Machesney Park Harlem after losing in overtime to Peoria High at Shirk Center on Illinois Wesleyan University’s campus, falling to the Lions, 65-58. After trailing at the end of the first quarter, 15-14, and leading at halftime, 24-21, The Pioneers found themselves in charge for most of the third quarter until a basket by Lions sophomore guard Lerone Allen tied the game at 33-all at the 4:01 mark. From there, a trio of unanswered threes – two from Allen and one from senior guard Christopher Williams – closed out the third quarter putting the Lions in front, 42-33.

U-High started the fourth quarter on a 7-0 run which started with a trey from senior guard Logan Christensen, reducing Peoria’s lead to 46-40. A free throw by senior forward Joe Brown and a trey by Christensen helped U-High come within two, 46-44, and prompted Peoria High head coach Dan Ruffin to call timeout with 3:35 left.

A trey by sophomore guard Nate Moore with three minutes left and a free throw from junior center Dionysius Hogan pushed the Lions in front, 50-46, prompting U-High to call time with 1:37 left. Coming out of the timeout, Wollenschlager hit a trey to help the Pioneers pull within one, 50-49, with 1:07 remaining in regulation. Coming out of the timeout, Hogan’s jumper with 59 seconds left, put the Lions up, 52-49. Christensen scored a game-tying three with 39.2 seconds left, forcing the game into a 52-all overtime.

The Pioneers found themselves in chase mode throughout the extra stanza, only coming as close as two points behind twice, 56-54 on a breakaway basket by senior guard Alex Wood and 58-56, thanks to a deuce by Christensen. After Christensen’s bucket, U-High called a timeout, but coming back into play, the overtime belonged to Peoria, which saw Hogan hit a deuce and a free throw followed by Lions sophomore guard Staishaun Kelley making 3-of-4 free throws after being fouled twice, putting the Lions’ victory within reach.

Pioneers Fail To Overcome Rock Island’s 4th Quarter Scoring Run: The Pioneers managed to maintain a basket-for-basket ratio for most of three quarters against second seed Rock Island in U-High’s second game of the tourney Dec. 27 – that is until the fourth quarter.

Prior to the fourth quarter, Pioneers trailed the Rocks 13-11 after one quarter, led at the half, 27-22, and found themselves behind at the end of the third quarter, 35-32. Treys by Wollenschlager and Christensen, and senior guard Brandon Merritt helped the Pioneers keep pace with their opponents. But after Pioneers junior forward Angelo Bernal opened the last quarter with a deuce to pull within one of Rock Island, 35-34 with 7:48 left in the contest, two back-to-back unanswered baskets for the Rocks by senior forward Solomon Gustafson lit the fuse on a 16-0 scoring surge which didn’t end until Wollenschlager’s next basket with 51.8 seconds remaining, cutting Rock Island’s lead, 51-36.

Senior guard Alijah Walker-Lee scored the Rocks’ final points which were quickly countered at the final buzzer for U-High with a trey by senior guard Caden Overton. But that loss sent the Pioneers attempting to claim 5th place in the tournament with the Peoria Lions as their next opponent. Against Rock Island, senior guard Alex Wood was U-High’s lone player in double figures with 11 points. Rock Island’s scoring leaders were junior guard Colton Sigel and senior forward Taurean Holtam who scored 13 points each, and 11 from Gustafson.

Pioneers Need Overtime To Win Opening Game Against Chicago Kenwood: The Pioneers trailed Chicago Kenwood during their opening round contest Dec. 26 but managed to corral the Broncos midway through the third quarter, or so they thought. After trailing 12-9 after one quarter and 27-24 at the half. U-High would catch and surpass the Broncos going into the fourth quarter leading, 42-37. But in that final quarter, U-High would find themselves behind again by as much as six, 51-45, on a trey from Kenwood junior guard Martin Kenall. From there, a pair of deuces from Pioneers sophomore forward Kenall Stork helped tie the game, the last of the two shots coming with 50 seconds in regulation.

The Pioneers started the overtime by going on a 6-0 run highlighted by two deuces from Wood and a deuce between those from junior guard Brandon Merritt, pushing U-High in front, 57-51. From there, both sides’ defenses tightened but Kenwood fouls would send Stork to the free throw line twice and Merritt once for a combined 4-for-6 putting the game out of reach for the Broncos and sending the Pioneers on to the second round against second seed Rock Island.

“We had a five point lead going into the fourth quarter but we came out a little sloppy in that quarter and Kenwood took the lead and ran it up by 6 and our guys just stayed together, executed, fought for defensive stops, and possession by possession, we fought for wins on offense and defense and ended up getting right back in the game,” U-High head coach Andrew McDowell explained afterward.

BLOOMINGTON – How some teams should be seeded in tournaments can be tricky to figure out because tournament organizers are working with team schedules and basing their seeding on results of completed games. Seeding a team into a specific slot is not a guarantee that team will successfully maneuver through the tournament to show the predictions made before the start of the tournament were correct.

Normal Community High School’s boys’ basketball team, selected top seed at the 40th annual State Farm Bloomington-Normal Holiday Tournament, known also as The Classic, unfortunately for Ironmen faithful, proved that seeding doesn’t always equal how that team is destined to finish. Top seeded NCHS finished 5th in the Large School Boys Bracket after beating 6th seed Peoria High, 51-44, Saturday at a contest played at Normal Community West High School.

Senior guard Jimmy Gillispie scored 16 points on the night followed in double-figures for NCHS by sophomore forward Zachary Cleveland’s 13. Sophomore guards Lerone Allen and Nate Moore were high scorers for the Lions, each pocketing 11 points in the contest. The victory improved NCHS’ record to 10-2 on the season.

Ironmen Beats Machesney Park In Third Game, 66-55: NCHS jumped out to a quick 5-0 lead from the opening tip with a deuce by senior guard Jimmy Gillispie and a deuce by sophomore guard Trey Redd. Huskies senior forward Jared Jacobsen countered with a trey of his own to cut the Ironmen’s lead to 5-3 en route to a 11-9 lead going into the second quarter. It would prove to be a sign of how the Ironmen would function, with aid from a pair of technical fouls called against Machesney Park in their 66-55 victory.

Foul trouble for the Huskies in the second quarter, including a technical foul called against the Huskies helped NCHS add a 6-for-10 tally and put NCHS up, 28-17, with 3:09 left until halftime. NCHS owned a 32-25 halftime lead.

A trey by senior guard Mitchell Sauder started third quarter scoring for NCHS, but Machesney Park countered with two treys from junior guard Trenton Tucker. In addition, Tucker, Jacobsen, and sophomore forward Lathan Lewis combining to go 6-for-6 at the free throw line toward the end of the quarter helped the Huskies narrow NCHS’ lead going into the fourth quarter, 49-40.

A trey from senior forward Griffin McCluskey along with Gillespie, Redd, Sauder, and Cleveland each visiting the free throw line for a combined 6-for-8 in the final stanza helped put the game out of reach for the Huskies. Those same three players were the only Ironmen in double figures, with Redd and McCluskey scoring 13 points each and Gillespie pocketing 12. Tucker was high scorer for the Huskies with 12 points followed by Jacobsen and junior forward Dominic McCarren’s 10.

As a result of the win, however, the Ironmen played their last game of the tournament at Normal Community West High School where they took on Big 12 Conference foe Peoria High.

Loss To Metamora, 37-36, Sends NCHS To Loser’s Bracket: NCHS found themselves either chasing or in a tie against 8th seed Metamora when the two teams met Dec. 27 at Shirk Center. NCHS found itself behind early, 9-4 by the end of the first quarter, courtesy of a pair of treys by Metamora freshman guard Ethan Kizer and one by sophomore guard Zach Schroeder. Sophomore guard Trey Redd provided NCHS’ only scoring in the first quarter. The Ironmen trailed throughout the second quarter, but a trey from McCluskey and a buzzer-beating basket by Cleveland helped NCHS cut the Redbirds’ lead at the half down to three, 17-14.

NCHS caught up to Metamora by the end of the third quarter, 30-all, thanks to a pair of deuces from Redd and a couple of Cleveland deuces. Three-pointers by senior guard Gabe Mason and senior guard Landon Ivins contributed to the tie score. After back-to-back deuces by Gillispie to start the fourth quarter, NCHS jumped out to a 34-30 lead with 5:27 remaining.

Two free throws by Kizer and a layup by Schroeder for the Redbirds went unanswered by NCHS, tying the game at 34 with just over two minutes left. A pair of free throws by Gillespie with 1:58 left gave NCHS a 36-34 lead. But that was short-lived due to a trey by Ivins with 1:41 remaining, putting Metamora up 37-36 prompting NCHS head coach Dave Witzig to call timeout.

Following the timeout, each side called a timeout inside the game’s remaining minute, Metamora’s timeout coming with 1.7 seconds remaining. Coming out of that timeout, and NCHS having possession, senior guard Mitchell Sauder threw the ball inbounds to Redd who took a few steps, shooting the ball toward the basket, only to see it fall short as the final buzzer sounded with Metamora winning, 37-36. Gillespie was the lone Ironmen in double-figures with 14 points. Redd and Cleveland each contributed 8 points for NCHS. Mason and Landon were high scorers for Metamora, pocketing 12 and 10 points, respectfully.

Ironmen head coach Dave Witzig admitted after this contest he felt his team was “fortunate to only be down by three at halftime because Metamora really outplayed us in the first half. Our press got us back in the game a little bit, but Metamora, from the opening tip, was ready to play and we kind of felt like we were not ready to play. We were a little slow out of the gate and so we were battling the whole time.

“Their guys made a nice comeback and Ivins hit a big three to give Metamora the lead and their shooters were knocking out shots when they were open,” Witzig added. He labeled the contest “a good lesson for us because our guys have to be ready to play a 32-minute game.”

Ironmen Outpace North Chicago In First Round, 54-45: The Ironmen’s opening round win against North Chicago, 54-45 at Illinois Wesleyan University’s Shirk Center put NCHS on the right path with a 54-42 victory. NCHS led the contest throughout lead 12-9 after one quarter, 24-16 at the half, and 42-28 after three quarters. Witzig said afterward the combination of his team coming fresh off celebrating Christmas combined with playing against North Chicago’s run-and-gun playing style presented a challenge for his team in the opening round. Redd led the Ironmen scoring with 19 points, followed by 13 from Cleveland and 10 from McCluskey. Junior guard Steven Rodriguez was the Warhawks’ lone scorer in double-figures with 19 points.

BLOOMINGTON – If area high school basketball fans were looking for a little post-Thanksgiving excitement during the annual Boys Intercity Basketball Tournament, they found it quickly if they attended Normal West High School’s showdown against Bloomington Central Catholic on Friday, Nov. 29 as the Wildcats clawed their way through triple overtime before dropping an 84-75 decision to the Saints before 750 enthusiastic fans.

West senior forwards Evan Hutson and Max Ziebarth opened the fourth quarter with a deuce each to help pull the Wildcats within two of BCC, 50-48, prompting Saints head coach Jason Welch to call time with 6:58 in the fourth quarter. Following the time out, the teams would see the score seesaw again, to a Wildcats 52-50 lead with 5:19 left, prompting West first season head coach Ed Hafermann to call time.

Coming out of that time out, a trey by Ellison put the Saints up, 53-52, but was countered by a deuce for West from Ziebarth, putting West up, 54-53, at the 4:25 mark. Back-to-back fouls committed by West junior forward Corey Walker’s foul put Davis on the line where he made two shots each time, giving BCC a 57-54 lead with 1:46 left. A deuce from West senior forward Cole Hernandez helped trim the lead to one, 57-56, prompting BCC to call time with nine seconds left.

But Davis was fouled shortly after coming out of the time out and made two free throws, putting the Saints up, 59-56, and prompting West to call time. The two sides would call another timeout each in the waning seconds before play would resume and McGinnis would find an opening and hit a trey to tie the game, 59-all, as the final buzzer sounded, forcing overtime.

A Seesaw 1st Overtime: BCC junior forward Sam Tallen opened the first overtime by fouling West’s Ziebarth who hit a pair of free throws, putting the Wildcats up, 61-59 with 3:47 left. But a trey from Davis just seconds later gave the Saints a one-point lead, 62-61. Hutson countered with a trey putting West ahead by two, 64-62. With three minutes left, Saints junior guard Andrew Hinderer’s trey put BCC up by one, 65-64, followed by two free throws by Hinderer being fouled and hitting two free throws with 3:40 left, giving the Saints a 67-64 lead. West called time with 26.2 seconds left and the Wildcats tried keeping their distance from the Saints waiting for the right shot with junior guard Colton Cassady the last man with the ball and hitting a three with 2.2 seconds left.

West was quick to call time and coming out of that timeout, BCC couldn’t maneuver to the basket forcing double OT.

BCC’s Ellison’s Trey Ends 2nd Overtime: West was quick to jump out to a 71-67 advantage to start double overtime thanks to a deuce from Ziebarth and a pair of free throws from Ziebarth, having been fouled by Tallen at the 1:08 mark in the second overtime. That prompted West to call time. Following the timeout, BCC’s Davis fouled Ziebarth, who sank both free throws, giving the Wildcats a 73-67 lead.

But a trey by Davis with 20.4 seconds cut West’s lead to three, 73-70. That was followed by West’s McGinnis going to the line having been fouled by Saints junior guard Casey Crowley. But McGinnis missing both free shots. BCC tied the game at 73-all on a buzzer-beating trey from junior guard Jayden Ellison, forcing triple OT.

Tallen, Davis, Ellison Baskets Push Saints In Front: The first two minutes and 10 seconds of the third overtime was a defensive effort for both teams with no scoring, but Tallen managed a deuce at that point, putting BCC up, 75-73. Cassady countered with a deuce for West with two minutes remaining to tie the game, 75-all. But that didn’t hold long courtesy of a Davis trey with 1:53 left, putting BCC up, 78-75. Tallen fouled West’s Ziebarth, but the 6 foot-4 sophomore couldn’t convert the two needed free throws. Another BCC trey from Ellison pushed the Saints’ lead to six, 81-75, with 1:05 left. BCC earned another point, going ahead 82-75, when Crowley hit 1-of-2 free throws after being fouled by McGinnis. BCC called time with 52.5 seconds remaining. Following the timeout, Davis added two more free throws, having been fouled by West’s McGinnis, resulting in the final score.

Scoring Leading Up To The Overtimes: A pair of threes from senior guard Cole Davis and junior guard J. T. Welch helped push Central Catholic (1-2 following this game) past Normal West, 14-11 to close out the first quarter. During that quarter, Wildcats fans saw their team jump to a fast 4-0 start with back-to-back deuces by junior forward Corey Walker and a trey from senior forward Evan Hutson.

Ziebarth’s basket at 3:49 in the second quarter helped Normal West (1-1 following this game) tie the game in the second quarter, 17-17, before Ellison’s bucket put BCC in front, 19-17. The game would be tied one more time, 19-all, and a Hutson deuce would put West up by one, 22-21 at the 3:21 mark, before a trey by Tallen would give the Saints a 24-22 lead that would be the start of a chase for West to keep pace with their opponents.

BCC would own a 34-26 lead at the half and 50-44 advantage highlighted by a pair of third quarter threes each for West from senior guard Alec McGinnis and for BCC from senior guard Cole Davis.

West’s Ziebarth, BCC’s Davis Were Lead Scorers: Davis and Ellison led all scorers in the contest as well as led BCC’s charge, with 31 points and 20, respectfully. Tallen was the only other Saints player to reach double-figures, with 13. Ziebarth led Normal West’s scoring with 21 points. He was followed in double-digits by 16 from Walker, Hutson’s 12, and McGinnis’ 11.

“West is skilled and they’re big,” stated BCC head coach Welch. “We never felt comfortable, and certainly, I don’t think West felt comfortable. The reality is it was two good basketball teams going at it in November and there really isn’t a winner or a loser because both teams got better.”

Welch credited his players with not letting West catching up to them deflate their momentum during the contest.

“That was a battle and we have talked about resiliency with our team this year,” explained Hafermann. “We were down 12 at one point in the third quarter and talked to the boys about not panicking. We talked about battling back.”

“Both teams were playing with no fear,” Hafermann added. “They were just out there competing. What more can you ask of 16-, 17-year-old kids in front of a very large crowd in a really intense environment?” He noted McGinnis’ trey, which came as the buzzer sounded the end of regulation, was “a really tough three” and that the 5 foot-10 senior never came out of the contest.

“I know people will talk about Alec’s missing those two free throws toward the end of the second overtime, but I want that kid on my team every single time,” Hafermann said. “You love to win but you want to learn from your losses.