ROCKFORD -- The Batavia boys basketball players spent the Martin Luther King Jr., holiday here doing what many of their classmates were probably doing back home: hanging with friends, grabbing lunch and catching a movie.
Before and after those team bonding moments the Bulldogs won 2 more basketball games to take the title at the J-Hawk MLK Showcase at Rockford Jefferson with a 4-0 record.
New Trier also finished 4-0 at the showcase, but Batavia was named champion based on the first tiebreaker of fewest points allowed. Batavia held its four opponents to 174 points. The teams did not play each other.
"We played phenomenal in this tournament and we're just looking to keep going upward," said Batavia sophomore Jayden Johnson, who scored a team-high 16 points Monday morning at Guilford in a 75-33 win over the hosts.
After the win at Guilford, the Bulldogs ate lunch at a restaurant and headed to a local theater to catch an afternoon matinee of Jumanji in Imax.
Thumbs-up or thumbs-down?
"It was pretty funny," said Batavia guard and movie reviewer Eric Peterson. "We were just goofing around the whole day. It was all fun. When you have all this time together you start bonding well and it transfers on the court."
The Bulldogs blew out Belvidere 50-33 at Jefferson in the afternoon. They led 16-2 after a quarter and 22-2 early in the second before coach Jim Nazos began substituting liberally. Twelve players scored, led by Johnson (9 points) and Peterson (8 points).
It was the eighth straight victory and 11th in 12 games for Batavia (18-3), which returns to Upstate Eight River play at St. Charles North on Friday.
"I think we're playing amazing right now," Peterson said. "We're a very unselfish team that's looking to make that extra pass. We're playing for each other on the floor right now and that's such a big thing."
Larkin (13-5) finished 3-1 at the showcase by splitting 2 Monday games. The Royals opened with a 79-59 win over Marian Central (7-12) in which Latrell Hudson and Anthony Lynch each scored 13 points.
However, in the afternoon finale the Royals had trouble defending New Trier (14-3), which was led by 13 points from 6-foot-2 senior guard Andrew Kirkpartrick and 9 points from 6-foot-9 junior Ciaran Brayboy. The Trevians led 16-7 after a quarter and 40-20 at the half before closing out the 61-42 win.
"I think it was a decent weekend overall," said Lynch, who scored 26 points against New Trier to finish with 91 points in 4 showcase games. "We just ran into a team that was ready to play us. They're obviously a good team. They can shoot and they have that big guy. We really haven't played against a big guy like that. We just have to play defense. That's what we struggled with."
South Elgin (12-6) gave host Jefferson (17-4) a test on its home floor in the final game of the showcase for each, but the J-Hawks held on for a 57-43 decision. Quillin Dixon led Jefferson with 19 points while Vince Miszkiewicz led South Elgin with 11.
Twice in the fourth quarter the Storm trimmed what had been a 14-point deficit with 6:35 left to 7 points, the last time with just over three minutes left. However, Jefferson responded with a 7-0 run to gain separation, fueled by turnovers off its full-court press.
"We had our opportunities, but it came down to taking care of the basketball," South Elgin coach Brett Johnson said. "Every time that we would come back we would get a steal that we needed, but we couldn't convert it into a bucket and that's what hurt us. We couldn't get the next finish of the next 2 points or 3 points to inch closer and give them a challenge."
South Elgin defeated Marian Central 69-47 earlier in the day, led by 13 points from Noah Rohr and 10 from Miszkiewicz.