BLOOMINGTON – El Paso Gridley’s boys’ basketball team fought for every basket Saturday during the championship game at the 109th Heart Of Illinois Conference/McLean County Tournament, held at Shirk Center on Illinois Wesleyan University’s campus. They just ran into a Tremont Turks squad led by senior guard Landon Pflederer who was blazing a trail of his own while leading his team to the Turks’ 64-61 win over the Titans.

Pflederer scored six treys in the contest breaking the previous record of five treys, the last players to set a record for those shots in a championship contest included Ridgeview’s Tyler McCormick three years ago.

While that sounds like plenty going on in a championship, the action started slowly in the first quarter with a single free throw by senior guard Titus Thompson who only hit 1-of-2 free throws, giving the Turks a 1-0 lead. But Titans sophomore guard Asa Smith was fouled by Thompson, giving Smith the chance to go 2-for-2 from the free throw line, putting EPG up, 2-1. That was followed by the game’s first back-to-back field goals by Tremont senior forward Marco Falcon and senior guard Titus Thompson, pushing the Turks up, 5-2.

Smith was fouled a second time, sending him to the charity stripe, where he hit 1-of-2, closing the gap on the Turks, 5-3, at the 5:48 mark in the first quarter. That was followed by a deuce by Pflederer, putting the Turks up, 7-3. Senior guard Ethan Jeffreys’ deuce, reducing the Turks’ lead, 7-5, but a trey by sophomore guard Isaiah Eatock with 4:22 left in the quarter doubled Tremont’s score, 10-5.

EPG responded with back-to-back baskets, a deuce from senior forward Jack Weber and trey from Jeffreys, to tie the game 10-all with 3:36 remaining. A basket from Pflederer put the Turks up, 12-10, which EPG’s Weber was quick to respond to, tying the contest at 12-all at the 1:45 mark. A three-point play by a fouled Thompson put Tremont up, 15-12 while EPG senior Silas Steiner could only make an initial basket but fail to make the free throw after being fouled, giving Tremont a 15-14 lead with 1:11 left in the quarter. EPG did go into the second quarter with a one-point advantage, 16-15, thanks to Weber’s jumper toward the end of the quarter.

A seesaw battle began the second quarter, with Thompson and Smith exchanging baskets, keeping EPG up, 18-17, before Falcon hit another deuce, putting the Turks up, 19-18, with 5:36 until half. Rapid fire baskets from EPG’s Ihlenfeldt, Tremont’s Thompson, and then back-to-back unanswered shots from EPG senior forward Jack Weber and Smith pushed the Titans up by three, 24-21, with 4:05 until halftime.

Tremont (17-5) capitalized on a three point play for senior forward Ryan Wagenbach having been fouled by Steiner, allowing Wagenbach to tie the game, 24-all, with 3:49 until the half. Senior forward Dilynn Gray’s basket put EPG up, 26-24 and was countered by a free throw by Thompson, cutting the Titans’ lead to 26-25. Another Steiner basket gave EPG a 28-25 lead, but Titans fans only saw that lead become overtaken by a deuce by Wagenbach followed by a four-point play, including a trey by Pflederer, putting Tremont up, 31-28, at the quarter’s 1:37 mark.

A Ihlenfeldt free throw, reduced that lead, 31-29, but then the quarter closed as it had started, with both sides responding basket for basket, first from Tremont’s Wagenbach, followed by a pair of deuces from EPG’s Weber, ending with a basket by Jeffreys, giving the Turks a 35-33 halftime lead.

The skirmish of the two teams answering basket for basket continued into the third quarter starting with Weber opening the third quarter with a jumper to tie the game at 35-all. Tremont’s Wagenbach responded with a deuce of his own, putting the Turks up, 37-35. A deuce and free shot from Smith helped EPG tie, then go in front, 38-37, at the 5:10 mark. But a Pflederer bucket put Tremont back in front by one, 39-38, with 4:52 left. A Steiner basket put EPG in front, 40-39, only to see the game tied at 40-all by a free throw from a fouled Turks Pflederer at the 3:31 mark. The Titans did manage two straight unanswered baskets from there from Jeffreys followed by Weber to go up by four, 44-40, with 1:24 left in the quarter. But the Titans only owned a two point lead going into the fourth quarter, 46-44.

A trey by Pflederer followed by a deuce from Wagenbach opened the fourth quarter and put Tremont up, 49-46, but EPG’s Gray hitting a trey tied the contest at 49-all, and the teams exchanged deuces once more before EPG called a timeout with 5:36 remaining. Following the timeout, Pflederer hit a trey putting Tremont up, 54-51, at the 5:08 mark. Ihlenfeldt responded with a trey for the Titans, tying the game, 54-all, with 4:32 left.

Wagenbach hit jumper to put Tremont up by three, 57-54, but that lead was short following a deuce from Gray, cutting Tremont’s lead to one, 57-56, with 3:15 left in the contest. Coming out of the timeout, Wagenbach hit another trey, putting EPG up, 59-57 with 2:52 remaining. Pflederer responded with a trey seconds later putting Tremont up by one, 60-59, prompting Tremont head coach Troy Schmidt to call timeout with 2:01 remaining.

Both teams assumed defensive postures with no scoring until Tremont called their next timeout with 40.2 seconds left. Coming out of that timeout, the Turks did manage to increase their lead, courtesy of a free throw by Falcon, who only made 1-of-2 free throws, having been fouled by Steiner. That pushed Tremont up, 61-59, with 28.2 seconds left. But Weber fouled Tremont’s Thompson, sending him to the foul line where he sank two shots, putting Tremont up by four, 63-59. At that point, the Turks called time out with 10.7 seconds left.

Coming out of the timeout, Gray sank a deuce to bring EPG within two, 63-61, and prompting Tremont to call time. When play resumed, EPG’s Smith fouled Tremont’s Wagenbach whose free throws sealed the victory.

Pfelderer was high scorer for Tremont with 29 points, which included six treys. That number of treys broke the record for the most treys made during a championship game. Three players were tied for having made five during a championship game, the most recent player to have made that many in a championship game was Tyler McCormick playing for Ridgeview in 2017. Following Pfelderer in double figures was Wagenbach with 14. Weber had 16 for EPG, leading his team’s scoring. He was followed in double-figures by 12 from Gray, and 10 each from Ihlenfeldt and Smith.

“They did what we thought they were going to do,” said Tremont head coach Troy Schmidt about what his team anticipated seeing from EPG. “They got us a little bit with penetration early and we decided to go to zone in the second half to take the penetration away. That slowed them down a little bit.

EPG head coach Nathan Meiss admitted afterward, “Pflederer was the best player on the floor tonight, especially in the fourth quarter. He stepped up big from the three-point line tonight. We knew we could score. We weren’t very good defensively in the first half, but I thought in the second half, we came around. Hat’s off to them, they were better than us tonight.”

This entry was posted on Sunday, January 26th, 2020 at 11:31 pm and is filed under The Normalite, Tremont. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

Comments are closed.