FRIDAY, MARCH 19,
CLASS 3A BOYS BASKETBALL
Hawks soar to Finals
PEORIA - Hillcrest beat Champaign Centennial 49-42 in order to advance to their first state title game ever. The Hawks got on a 14-4 which included a 3-pointer from Jeremiah Horne at the end of the third quarter that got things going at Carver Arena in Peoria.
The Hawks lost to them 81-64 earlier in the season. Coach Don Houston got a better feel for their game and was prepared.
"I've watched Champaign Centennial's film so much, it's almost like I know their kids' shoe sizes," Houston said. "The first time we played 'em, we had a difficult time getting back on defense. We didn't do a good job at all. (This time) we had to make them play a half-court game and slow them down."
The Hawks will face Peoria Richwoods for the Class 3A state title, who knocked off Marshall (Chicago), 67-61.
The game will be held Saturday 2pm.
Eric Gaines led Hillcrest with 17 points followed by Julius Brown who added 13.
CLASS 4A BOYS BASKETBALL
Simeon heads back to State finals
PEORIA – The Wolverines knocked off O'Fallon 48-42 in the Class 4A semifinals to play for another state title. 6'3" senior Brandon Spearman carried the team in this contest finishing with 19.
Even though Spearman's name wasn't added to the All-Area and All-State honors roll call, he used this platform to show naysayers he deserved.
“Coach wanted the ball in my hands so I had to make big plays,” Spearman said. “I tried to step up as a leader.”
“At the start of the fourth quarter (with Simeon trailing 32-31) I turned to him and said, ‘It’s your time now,’” Simeon coach Robert Smith said. “Our intent was for him to have the basketball on every possession.”
Junior Ahman Fells also played big for Simeon contributing 8 points and the necessary energy they needed down the stretch while coming off of the bench.
O’Fallon junior Roosevelt Jones played his heart out but didn’t have much help, as no other O’Fallon player scored more than six points. Jones knocked down 22 and grabbing 19 boards.
“Roosevelt Jones is a good player,” Smith said. “He tried to fight for his team the entire game.”
At the time of this writing, Simeon will face either Young or Waukegan in the state championship game. Simeon lost to both teams this season, dropping a 62-55 early-season decision to Young before falling to Waukegan 59-51 in the Pontiac Holiday Tournament final.
"Both of them beat us at a time when we weren't playing good," Simeon coach Robert Smith said. "We weren't a team then. The last six games we became a team. It is going to be interesting tomorrow."
Young Squeaks into finals
PEORIA — Young's little assassin, 5'9" Oregon State-bound guard Ahmad Starks, drained a 12-footer with 0.5 seconds left in the contest to seal the win over Waukegan and senior sensation Jereme Richmond, 60-58 in the state class 4A semifinals.
"The play was a pick and roll with Sam (Thompson)," Starks said. "He slipped but he wasn't open, so then I knew I was going to take the shot. My teammates did a great job of setting a pick to get me open."
Waukegan got off to a slow start and had to fight hard to get back into the game as the Dolphins jumped out to a 10-0 start.
Also Illinois-bound Richmond sat upset on the bench for a good portion of the second quarter due to foul trouble.
But as we have witness this season, the Bulldogs keep fighting. In the second half, after a lay-up by Aaron Johnson cut Young's lead to 41-40, Starks answered with 7 straight points in the final minutes of the third to make it 48-40.
Young's game-long lead was finally eliminated on a 3-pointer by Quan Conner with 29 seconds left to tie it at 58-58 and set the stage for Starks' winning shot.
"We had lofty expectations this season," the Illinois-bound Richmond said. "We definitely wanted to bring a championship home, so it's tough. I couldn't catch a rhythm early, then I had to sit for six minutes in the first half. I hurt my team a little, let them down. It's a tribute to Young's defense."
Conner had 14 points in the contest followed by Jereme Richmond who added 12.
Young was led by Purdue-bound shooting guard Anthony Johnson had a game-high 20, followed by Starks, who finished with 15 points.
The Dolphins were able to overcome the Bulldogs previous victory over them three weeks ago in the CPS Showdown.
"We knew the first game was a fluke, and getting Sam back (from an ankle injury) was big. They've been talking a lot, and we had to go out and beat them," said Starks.
Young will play for its second straight 4A title Saturday night against Simeon.
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