Kaneland, Marmion, Burlington cruise into Plano semifinals
Earlier in the year Kaneland senior guard Gevon Grant and junior backcourt mate Troyer Carlson combined for 61 points in a 21-point demolition of Interstate Eight Conference foe Ottawa.
The pair were at their finest again Wednesday evening at the 59th Plano Christmas Classic. They combined for 45 points this time with the No. 3 seeded Knights coasting away to a 81-56 running-clock victory over No. 6 seed Yorkville Christian in Reaper Gym.
Carlson posted a team-best 24 points, which now leads Kaneland (13-1) into The Classic semifinals against No. 2 seed Marmion Academy (10-3) at 7 p.m. Thursday.
"It was a great team effort tonight, we shared the ball well, were unselfish, and the score tonight really proved it," Carlson said.
Grant netted 21, including 13 in the third quarter, to help seal it for the Knights.
"Our coaches told us to attack the rim and get aggressive," Grant said.
Kaneland (13-1) also saw a double-digit scoring effort from Johnny Spallasso (10 points). Freddy Hassan added six points and pulled down 13 rebounds.
The Knights shot a remarkable 33 of 59 (56%) from the field while holding the Chargers to a mere 15 of 50 (30%) for the game, including only 3 of 27 (11%) in the first half. They kept Yorkville Christian leading scorer David Douglas Jr., averaging 36 points a game, to only 12 points and one field goal throughout the first two quarters with some incredible defense.
"Our kids played hard defensively tonight and we wanted to make sure one guy didn't beat us and we wanted (Douglas) to earn his shots," Kaneland coach Ernie Colombe said. "He ended up getting his points in the end but we ran at him, played physical basketball and challenged him to score. Troyer and Gevon took care of us on the offensive end like they do and I couldn't have asked for a better way than this team executed our game plan against a very good Yorkville Christian team."
The Mustangs (3-12) did see Douglas Jr. net 31 points, including 19 in the second half.
Burlington Central 72, Streator 36:
The defending Plano Christmas Classic champions and 2022 top seed looked every bit as good as advertised in Wednesday night's curtain-dropper in Reaper Gymnasium.
Burlington Central built a double-digit advantage less than three minutes in and never looked back en route to a 72-36 doubling-up of the Streator Bulldogs. Led by 6-foot, 9-inch senior Andrew Scharnowski's game-best 19-point effort -- 17 of those scored in the first half as the Rockets crafted a 35-point lead by the break -- Central moved on to an 8:30 p.m. Thursday semifinal matchup with Peoria Notre Dame.
"Coming in, we are the champs here," Scharnowski said, "but every day we come in, we're humble and we're ready to work, and I can appreciate that. We've got a lot of young guys, and they're all willing to give their best effort.
"We showed that today."
Scharnowski and the Rockets (9-3) simply played at a higher -- and faster -- level than the Bulldogs (7-6), fueled by a defensive press that created 10 Streator turnovers in the first quarter alone and ultimately 18 in the first half and 26 for the game.
"[It's just] crazy ball pressure, people flying all over the place, recovering, getting blocks, taking charges," Scharnowski said. "It's just energy, and it really helps, because it gets us going on offense."
"The speed at which they play … they make it seem like there's six of them out there," Streator coach Beau Doty said. "It looks like that on film from the top row of the bleachers. I can only imagine for our kids what it looks like."
On the other end, Burlington Central had little trouble cashing in on those extra possessions and transition opportunities. The Rockets shot 51.7% (31 of 60) from the field led by Scharnowski's 19 points, six rebounds, five assists and four steals; 13 points apiece courtesy of Nicholas Gouriotis and Myles Lowe (three steals); and a 10-point night from Jake Johnson.
The Burlington Central lead was never challenged even after Rockets coach Brett Porto pulled his starters up 40-plus two and a half minutes into the third quarter.
-- J.T. Pedelty
Marmion 61, Ottawa 28:
Marmion Academy suffered through one of its coldest shooting halves of the basketball season Wednesday night against Ottawa at the 59th Plano Christmas Classic.
But when the Cadets finally got hot with five minutes to go in the third quarter they lit Reaper Gym on fire.
Behind six-foot, five-inch senior forward Trevon Roots' 18 points, No. 2-seeded Marmion turned a slim six-point advantage into a lopsided 61-28 running-clock blowout of the No. 7 seeded Pirates.
Marmion (10-3) hit nine 3-pointers over the final 13 minutes of play, three of which came from Roots as the Cadets advanced to Thursday evening's semifinal matchup with No. 3 seed Kaneland (13-1) at 7 p.m.
"We started off very slow tonight in the first half and we failed to knock down very many of our shots," Roots said. "I knew I had to pick up the slack in the second half and once we got going there was no stopping us."
Roots got some solid help from classmate Collin Wainscott and junior Evan Stumm, who each tallied eight points apiece as the Cadets ended up shooting a very respectable 23 of 55 (42%) overall from the field, 12 of 33 (36%) from 3-point land. They hit 10 of 19 (52%) in the red-hot second half from 3.
"We defended very well the whole night and when you have an off-shooting game like we did tonight against Ottawa, you have to be able to defend and not panic," Marmion coach Joe Piekarz said.
-- Bill Lidinsky