Boys basketball: Seeded teams hold serve at Plano
By Rick Armstrong firstname.lastname@example.org December 24, 2012 4:06PM
Kaneland's Connor Fedderly draws a foul from Sandwich's Jake Roehn during opening round action Saturday at the Plano Christmas Classic. | Mary Beth Nolan~For Sun-Times Media
Game 1 — No. 12 Wilmington 74, Dixon 51
Game 2 — No. 13 Aurora Christian 63, Streator 54
Game 3 — No. 9 Morris 57, Forreston 25
Game 4 — Coal City 42, No. 16 Rockford Christian 40
Game 5 — No. 11 Kaneland 52, Sandwich 31
Game 6 — No. 14 Newark 61, Burlington Central 49
Game 7 — No. 10 Ottawa 93, Somonauk 64
Game 8 — No. 15 Plano 50, Princeton 42
Game 9 — Dixon vs. Streator, 3:30 p.m.
Game 10 — Forreston vs. Rockford Christian, 5 p.m.
Game 11 — Sandwich vs. Burlington Central, 6:30 p.m.
Game 12 — Somonauk vs. Princeton, 8 p.m.
Game 13 — No. 5 Hinckley-Big Rock vs. Wilmington, 9 a.m.
Game 14 — No. 4 Mendota vs. Aurora Christian, 10:30 a.m.
Game 15 — No. 8 Indian Creek vs Morris, 12:30 p.m.
Game 16 — No. 1 Belvidere vs. Coal City, 2 p.m.
Game 17 — No. 6 Lisle vs. Kaneland, 3:30 p.m.
Game 18 — No. 3 Yorkville vs. Newark, 5:30 p.m.
Game 19 — No. 7 Genoa-Kingston vs. Ottawa, 7 p.m.
Game 20 — No. 2 Seneca vs. Plano, 8:30 p.m.
Updated: January 26, 2013 6:21AM
The Nos. 9 through 16 seeds in the 24-team field at the 50th annual Plano Christmas Classic made the coaches look good in Saturday’s opening round.
Every seeded team but one — No. 16 Rockford Christian — advanced to Wednesday’s matchups with one of the top eight seeded teams, and the Royal Lions made it close, falling 42-40 to unseeded Coal City.
Host and No. 15 seed Plano had its 15-point lead whittled to four in the final minute, but held on to claim a 50-42 decision over Princeton and will meet No. 2 Seneca in Wednesday’s 8:30 p.m. finale, which is always good for attendance.
“We needed this game more than any one we’ve had in a long time,” Plano coach Brett Moore said. “From here on out, it’s fun. Guys are getting chances to make upsets. We’re one of the lowest rated seeds on that side. We’ve got nothing to lose.
“We need to beat some good basketball teams, one, for our confidence, two, if we don’t, we’re gonna be a 4 or 5 seed in the (Class 3A) Lincoln-Way West Regional. We’ve gotta use this to beat some good 3A, 4A schools.”
The Reapers start a small lineup of 5-foot-9 junior Elijah Wallace, 6-1 junior Jon McDermott, 6-0 junior Malik Willis, 5-11 senior Cody Dryden and 6-6 sophomore Udo Agomo. The group has good quickness, but lacks experience.
“We’re getting better,” Moore said. “You saw what we could do for a half (Saturday, when they led 27-16). In the second half, we just got kind of lackadaisical. … We had that deer in the headlight look (during Princeton’s rally). Sometimes, we could have had two or three people open underneath the basket and we were still gonna pass it to the wrong place.
“We battled through it. The main thing is we hit some free throws at the end that we didn’t hit in the first.”
Free throws are still a concern, though. Plano made 7 of 13 in the first half and 9 of 15 in the second half, just 57 percent for the game.
Newark coach Rick Tollefson acknowledged that living up to their No. 14 seed could have affected his players as they got off to a slow start in Saturday’s win over unseeded Burlington Central.
“It seemed like we came out a little tight, which can happen when you’re supposed to win,” he said. “Now, hopefully, we can play loose and get some momentum going.”
The Norsemen meet third-seeded Yorkville at 5:30 p.m Wednesday.
“Yorkville is a nice team, so we’ll have to play real well,” Tollefson said.
“With this group, we’re still inexperienced and not a lot of guys have played a ton together, so it’s just one game at a time,” coach Brian Johnson said of his 11th-seeded Kaneland squad, which meets No. 6 Lisle at 3:30 p.m Wednesday.
“We’ve got to worry about a very good Lisle team that’s very well-coached and athletic, and we feel like they cover all the positions, so we’re gonna have to work very hard against them. They’re no pushover.”
Johnson hopes his team’s work on the defensive end can carry them a long way but doesn’t know that the recent return from injury of point guard Drew David makes them a darkhorse in the remaining field.
“We try to work on (defense) every single day and we do a lot of drills the kids don’t like, but I think in the long run, it helps us to be successful,” he said.
Topping the list
This is the second year of the 24-team, five-day format for the event. Newark’s Brett Anderson last year won the Harley Pope Award for being its outstanding player after scoring 130 points (26.0 ppg).