March Madness kicked off this afternoon
with Manhatten taking it to
The Aviators and Big Blue started things
off in the early game and it appeared the Aviators may have been confused about
that start time. While the Big Blue
came out on fire scoring 20 points in the first frame, the Aviators struggled
with only 2 field goals.
The Aviators started out on a different
note and a zone defense in the second scoring the first 7 points of the quarter
to cut the lead to 8. At the
mark Coach Larry Allen called a thirty second timeout to settle his team, but right out of the
timeout Sycamore's Mario Kirkendall hit another three
to cut the lead to five. The
Aviators did not let up the rest of the way, battling back to make it a 4 point
game at the half. At the half,
Both teams came out of halftime with an
energy that you can only find when basketball teams play in March. The Aviators continued their charge
bombing away from three point land.
At the mark, Scott Langhorne's three point shot gave the
Aviators their first lead, 36-34, and
The Big Blue were
able to maintain and extend the lead during the fourth. By the
Latez Williams, Adam Myers-White, Jason Miller and Brandon Lampley all scored in double digits for the Big Blue. Myers-White and Miller led with 15 a piece. Miller also grabbed 11 rebounds in the win. Junior point guard Mike Kimmey scored 18 in the Aviator loss.
The second game of the night pitted two of the state's hottest teams against one another as LaSalle took on Springfield South. AND THEY'RE OFF!
Anyone who has followed either of these teams knows that each loves dictate the tempo of the game by playing suffocating defense and getting out on the break. When both teams try to set this pace it makes for one exciting game. LaSalle coach, Dave Flemming, utilizes every player on his roster and presses the entire game, and tonight was no different. However, the Wildcats seemed to welcome it as they broke the press and worked for easy baskets. South grabbed an early lead and held it through the first quarter, 23-17.
The second quarter went off at the same pace until coach Flemming called a thirty second timeout with remaining. Wildcat coach, Larry Hamm, took the opportunity to speak to the officials after several calls were made against the Wildcats. The discussion was not lively, but the South fans made sure the referees knew they disagreed with their last few calls. LaSalle came out of the timeout and scored four unanswered to cut the lead to two. But the Wildcats stormed back not letting up against the relentless Lancer pressure.
South held a 7 point lead as time wound down in the second and pushed it to 10 when James Cooper hit a three just before the buzzer sounded, 43-33. The pace of the game was unbelievable. At the half the biggest question seemed to be whether South was going to be able to keep pace. The main difference was South's three point shooting. They were 7 of 12 in the quarter including a 4-7 effort from Jabriel Thomas.
South did not miss a beat in the third quarter and you could tell that Coach Hamm has a strong conditioning program. The highlight of the quarter came with remaining when St. Bonaventure signee, Isiah Carson, made a perfect alley oop pass to Von Davis who seemed to come out of orbit to throw down a monster jam. That pushed the South lead to 14, 55-41. South was simply relentless never losing it under the constant pressure they kept pushing the ball through the press getting transition baskets and playing remarkable defense. Ultimately, LaSalle was held to three points the entire quarter while the Wildcats pushed the lead to 17, 62-45.
LaSalle made it clear that, to win the game, the Wildcats would have to make their free throws. By the mid point of the fourth quarter the Lancer pressure was finally catching up to South and you could tell their players were getting tired. LaSalle charged back taking advantage of a beleaguered South squad and drew to within 5 at the mark off a Ray Ruberg three pointer, 70-75. South awoke and reached down deep and scored two baskets before another three from Darenn Mansoor of LaSalle. 39.5 remaining, South ball, South lead 79-73. This is what tournament time is all about.
South breaks the press and James Cooper is
fouled. He makes one of two. A quick three point shot and miss from
LaSalle, rebound South and they hit their free throws
to seal the deal. The cherry on the
top for South came with another
There were several impressive performances
in the game. Two Wildcats finished
with double doubles. Junior forward
Nate Miller had 15 boards to go with 15 points and
Isiah Carson had 14 points to go along with 10
assists. It's a good thing
Division III –
Ripley Union 43