Sports

Comets, Missiles come away with regional gold

BOYS BASKETBALL SCHEDULE

WEDNESDAY

3A Dunlap Regional, Sterling vs. Galesburg, 7 p.m.

1A Eastland Sectional, Newman vs. River Ridge, 7 p.m.

FRIDAY

3A Dunlap Regional championship, 7 p.m.

1A Eastland Sectional, Newman/River Ridge winner vs. East Dubuque/Milledgeville winner (from Tuesday), 7 p.m.

TUESDAY

3A LaSalle-Peru Sectional, Dunlap Regional winner vs. Peoria Manual Regional winner, 7 p.m.

1A NIU Supersectional, Eastland Sectional winner vs. Chicago Robeson Sectional winner, 6 p.m.

BOYS BASKETBALL HIGHLIGHTS

FRIDAY

Milledgeville 68, Indian Creek 63: Kyle Ottens' career-best 47 led the Missiles' comeback against the Timberwolves in the title game of the 1A Amboy Regional.

As if the offensive outburst wasn't enough, the senior guard grabbed a game-high nine rebounds for the Missiles, who won their first postseason tournament championship since winning a district tournament in 1931 – 87 years ago.

Ottens’ big game came 2 days after teammate Cade Schave scored a career-high 36 in a semifinal win against Ashton-Franklin Center.

"I said, 'Hey, you've got to take over because I don't think these guys can guard you,'" Missiles coach Brad Grenoble said. "He had kind of an average game against AFC because they kind of knew him. He said he was ready, and he took over, man. He took over. Cade took over AFC, Kyle took over here. That's why you have two all-state players."

Schave finished with 14 points for the Missiles as the two combined for most of the offense. But it was Carson Boyer who hit one of the biggest shots in the fourth, giving Milledgeville its first lead of the game, 59-56 with 3:28 left. The Timberwolves led by as many as 10 points early in the third quarter.

Boyer finished with five points, and Blayne Kappes scored three to account for all the Milledgeville scoring.

Indian Creek retook the led at 60-59 with 2:16 left, but a 3-pointer by Ottens with 1:45 to go put the Missiles ahead for good. Less than 20 seconds later Boyer had a steal and a layup to push the lead to four.

Newman 70, Polo 47: The second meeting between the Comets and Marcos went almost like the first – a blowout win by the Comets in the championship game of the 1A Polo Regional.

With four different players scoring to start the game, Newman took a 16-4 lead and used that versatility to stem the tide any time Polo would try to make a run the rest of the evening.

Senior floor leader Cade Gorzny nailed his first three 3s, leading the Comets to a 27-14 advantage. Then it was fellow guard Gehrig Koerner taking over. With the open looks Polo was giving him, Koerner made them pay with four of the next five baskets by Newman, all 3-pointers.

Reid Taylor’s 10 first-half points pulled the Marcos within 27-24 midway through the second quarter. That came shortly after Newman missed six shots on one possession, but snared an offensive rebound each time.

Just like at the start of the game, it was scores by four different players stretching Newman's halftime lead from 33-26 to 43-29.

That balance of Devon House (17 points), Travis Williams (16), Gorzny (13) and Koerner (12) led the Comets.

Bureau Valley 67, Fulton 63: If the Steamers were going to win a regional title for the first time in 18 years, they were going to need some pop.

Unfortunately for the Steamers, Nate Paup provided that pop for Bureau Valley in a 1A regional title game at Stan Borgman Court, keeping Fulton’s drought intact.

Paup scored seven of the Storm’s first 14 points, and helped light up an 8-0 run with a 3 for a 14-7 lead with 3:40 left in the first quarter. Tyler Gustafson followed that with a 3 of his own for a 17-7 lead.

Entering the second half with a 38-25 lead, Paup gave the Storm their biggest lead of the game at 15 after a driving shot. The Steamers wouldn’t let the lead extend any more than that as they fought the entire second half playing for their playoff lives.

Keegan Kloepping brought the Storm’s lead down to 10 at 43-33 with 5:40 in the third with a 3 from the right wing. Tyler Bruggenwirth added a pair of putbacks and Cody Sanderson made a successful three-point play to narrow the Storm lead down to 45-41 with 3:43 left in the third.

Fulton entered the final quarter down 53-50.

With 4:18 to play, Kloepping hit a pair of free throws to tie the game at 57. Endress came up with a steal with 3:39 to play and was fouled on the drive by Jamison Osborne on the shot; Endress made both free throws for a 59-57 lead. That two-point lead remained at 61-59, but the Steamers, with a chance to score and inbounding under the Storm basket, committed a turnover on the inbounds play to give the Storm the ball back.

Paup made the Steamers pay for that turnover as he got fouled on the next possession and sank two free throws for a 63-59 lead.

Fulton never got a lead, or tied, after that. The Steamers came close at 65-63 after Osborn made a bucket off of a steal with 11.4 seconds to play, but more Storm free throws iced the game.

Sanderson ended with 20 points, and broke the Steamers’ single-season record in that category to finish with 190 for the year. Bruggenwirth finished with a double-double of 15 points and 14 rebounds.

Sterling 78, Rochelle 56: The Golden Warriors closed out the regular season by setting a season-high in points in a Senior Night win over the Hubs at Musgrove Fieldhouse.

The victory also clinched back-to-back 20-win seasons for the Golden Warriors for the first time since 1989-90.

Rochelle climbed out of an early first-quarter deficit to trail by just five at halftime, but Sterling started the second half on a 10-0 run. Sean Gingrich knocked down a 3, Micah Kendrick hit a free throw and a layup, and Tyler Willman notched a pair of putbacks.

Just when the Hubs were poised to cut the Warriors’ lead back down to single digits, Aidan Shore picked up a steal and passed ahead to Kendrick, who found Marquez Williams for a layup to put Sterling up 57-40 midway through the third.

The final Rochelle back-breaker was a Kendrick bucket through contact, followed by a pair of Willman free throws after the senior forward snagged an offensive rebound off of the senior guard’s miss at the foul line. Sterling led 65-49 after three, and never looked back in the fourth.

Sterling shot 40 percent (30-for-75) from the floor, and outrebounded Rochelle 50-24. Kendrick continued his hot play of late with 19 points, five rebounds, two assists and five steals, and Gingrich finished with 15 points, four boards and a pair of assists and steals.

Shore dominated the interior with 11 points, 17 rebounds and two steals, while Willman notched a double-double with 10 points and 11 boards.

River Ridge 58, Lena-Winslow 45: The Panthers fell to their NUIC West rivals in the championship game of the Dakota Regional.

Cade Benson led Lena-Winslow with 20 points. Trey Thomas scored 22 points to lead River Ridge.

East Dubuque 52, Pearl City 37: The Wolves exited the regular season as NUIC West champions, but couldn’t make it past a divisional rival in the East Dubuque Regional championship game.

WEDNESDAY

Milledgeville 74, AFC 55: The Missiles set a new school record for most wins in a season with 23, after beating the Raiders in a 1A Amboy Regional semifinal.

With the teams tied at 9 in the first quarter, Carson Boyer came away with a steal in the left wing and dished to a breaking Cade Schave with 4:09 left. Schave hit a 3 for a 12-9 Missiles lead, and Boyer followed 30 seconds later with a 3 of his own for a six-point lead.

Less than 24 hours removed from scoring a season-high 93 points against Paw Paw, the Raiders (12-19) saw much of the same in this game. Paw Paw hit 11 3s on Tuesday, and the Missiles hit nine more.

That burst was enough to lift the Missiles to a 19-9 lead after one quarter, and it was the start of a 21-3 run which lasted into the second quarter. Nearly half of Milledgeville’s points at halftime – a 43-28 Missiles lead – were scored from behind the arc. Nate Rahn hit a pair of 3s, and Ottens, Jack Munz and Blayne Kappes each made one 3 – Kappes’ came just before the halftime buzzer.

One day removed from scoring a career-high 36 points against Paw Paw, AFC senior Adam Hart was held to two field goals and seven points. This time, it was Schave scoring a career-high 36 Wednesday, two more than his previous best.

Only three other times had the Missiles won at least 22 games in the regular season – each coming after the annexation of the Chadwick school district in 1989.

Newman 67, Eastland 57 (OT): Of the Comets' nine possessions in the extra session, the only one that saw the Comets come away with no points was the last one, as Cade Gorzny tucked the ball under his arm to run out the clock in a 1A Polo Regional semifinal win over Eastland.

With the game tied 50-50 at the end of regulation, Devon House won the opening tip of overtime and Gorzny quickly drove to the rim to put the Comets ahead. House added a few baskets in the paint, Gorzny hit from the free-throw line, and Brycen Bartel added a layup.

Eastland kept pace at first, getting baskets in the paint from Travis Spong and Ethan Christians, but a pair or turnovers and three misses from the field led to Newman pushing its lead into double digits.

While Newman shot 5-for-5 from the field and 7-for-8 from the free-throw line in overtime, the Comets struggled to shoot in the fourth quarter, hitting just one basket from the field, a Travis Williams layup.

With Newman’s offense struggling, Eastland rallied. Newman led 47-40 heading into the fourth quarter, but Christians hit a basket in the paint and Spong added a steal and a basket to cut the lead to 47-44. After Bartel and Reid Janssen traded free throws, Kaden Henze hit a 3-pointer to tie the game at 48-48 with 3:27 left in the quarter.

A Travis Williams layup and a pair of free throws from Henze led to a 50-50 tie, and both teams had chances to win it in regulation. But Eastland turned the ball over twice, and Gorzny’s 3-point attempt at the buzzer missed.

Newman shot 26-for-63 for the game (41 percent), but held a 39-29 edge on the boards, including 19 offensive rebounds.

House led Newman with 25 points and 12 rebounds. Gorzny and Williams each added 12 points, and Bartel scored 10.

Christians led Eastland with 14 points. Spong added 11 points, but also made a contribution on defense by stepping in to take four charges.

Bureau Valley 64, West Carroll 47: For a half, the Thunder looked every bit the part of an underdog poised to spring an upset of No. 1 seed Bureau Valley in a 2A Fulton Regional semifinal at Stan Borgman Court.

Then, the Storm did what the Storm have done all year en route to a share of the TRAC East title – use an up-tempo style to slash into the lane and score at will.

Bureau Valley started the second half on a 7-0 run to break free from a 26-all tie. Nate Paup-Caudill connected on a floater, Corbin Endress made a transition layup, and Tyler Gustafson drained a 3 to give the Storm some breathing room.

Petros then scored three straight buckets inside, the last being a three-point play to put BV up 43-31 with 2:37 left in the third quarter.

The Storm finished 8-for-9 from the floor in the third, as Kale Barnett’s three-point play gave Bureau Valley a 46-35 advantage after three. Kody Plattenberger’s layup and Kaleb Plattenberger’s 3 cut it to 52-42 midway through the fourth quarter, but BV hit 8 of 11 free throws in the fourth – and 19 of 27 for the game – to salt away the win.

West Carroll led 7-2 early on before BV closed the first quarter on an 11-2 run to lead 14-9 after one. Two 3s from Spencer Marquez and one from Endress – as well as full-court pressure – staked the Storm to a lead, while Kaleb Plattenberger and Dawson Wurster picked up two fouls apiece.

Just as it looked like BV was going to pull away, the Thunder responded with one of their best quarters of the year. West Carroll hit all four free throws in the second, while Jacob Dunk knocked down three straight jumpers to pull the Thunder to within five at 24-19 midway through the second.

Jordan Anderson knocked down a 3, and Kody Plattenberger’s free throws tied it at 24 with 2:14 to go in the first half. Another baseline jumper by Dunk gave West Carroll a 26-24 edge before Barnett knocked down a pair of free throws to tie it at intermission.

West Carroll shot 40 percent (17-for-42) from the floor, and just 9-for-17 from the free-throw line. Dunk led all scorers with 16 points. Kaleb Plattenberger had eight points, Wurster had seven points, and Kody Plattenberger finished with six points for the Thunder.

Bureau Valley earned the victory thanks in large part to an 75-percent (12-for-16) performance from the field in the second half.

Fulton 47, Riverdale 32: The Steamers used a 9-0 run during the latter half of the third quarter and early on in the fourth to win the third and final meeting of the season against the Rams.

Tyler Bruggenwirth recorded a double-double with 12 points and 15 rebounds, while Cody Sanderson made 10 of 11 free throws for 12 points to pace Fulton.

Lena-Winslow 60, Orangeville 43: The Panthers opened up regional play by downing the Broncos in a Dakota Regional semifinal.

Sean Ormiston led Lena-Winslow with 17 points. Keegan Gyland added 15 points.

Pearl City 40, Stockton 17 (East Dubuque Regional semifinal)

TUESDAY

Milledgeville 76, Hiawatha 30: The Missiles hit their first eight shots of the game from inside the 3-point arc, and shot 67 percent (10-for-15) in the first quarter of a 1A Amboy Regional quarterfinal.

Hiawatha turned the ball over eight times, helping the Missiles to a 23-4 advantage that never dwindled.

Milledgeville started the second quarter on a 16-2 run, as the lead grew to 39-6 after a putback by Kyle Ottens. The Hawks answered with a 6-0 run, highlighted by back-to-back assists by Jacob Edwards to Blake Lemke for a pair of layups. Still, the underdogs trailed 45-10 at halftime.

Ottens scored all 15 of his points in the first half, while Nate Rahn and Cade Schave each had 12 of their 14 points in the opening 16 minutes. Hiawatha was just 5-for-21 from the field in the first half, and was outrebounded 21-10.

The Missiles connected on their first three shots of the second half to initiate a new rotation of substitutions, as they led 62-21 after the third quarter. Milledgeville finished at 50 percent (33-for-66) from the field, won the rebounding battle 35-21, and shared the wealth with 22 assists.

MONDAY

Eastland 58, Erie 45: Four different Cougars reached double figures in a win over the Cardinals in a 1A Polo Regional quarterfinal.

Reid Janssen led the way with 14 points, Travis Spong recorded a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds, Ethan Christians stuffed the stat sheet with 12 points, seven boards, three assists and two steals, and Kaden Henze came off the bench for 11 points and four assists.

Erie endured a tough shooting night, finishing at just 34 percent (11-for-32) for the game. The Cardinals hung in to trail just 30-25 at halftime, but couldn’t contain the Cougars in the second half.

Eastland boosted its lead to 36-25 just 2 minutes into the third quarter after Brett Swalve found Janssen for a layup. After a 3 and pair of free throws by Erie’s Brady Anderson cut the Cardinals’ deficit to 40-30, the Cougars closed the third on a 9-3 run to gain separation. Henze hit a 3 and layup, and Christians scored a pair of buckets inside to make it 49-33 after three.

Eastland outrebounded Erie 31-16 in the contest, and shot an efficient 46 percent (24-for-52) from the floor.

Fulton 64, Morrison 30: Tyler Bruggenwirth had never thrown down two dunks in a game before.

In a 2A Fulton Regional quarterfinal at Stan Borgman Court, Bruggenwirth tried to provide an early pop in the first quarter with a two-handed jam after a steal, but Morrison senior guard Britt Ottens countered with a 3 on the next possession.

The next time Bruggenwirth got a chance to slam the ball down, it was the momentum the Steamers need to sail away with a win.

Bruggenwirth’s second two-handed jam came after Austin Schroeder came up with a steal at halfcourt with 7:20 left in the second quarter. Schroeder dished to Bruggenwirth, who cleared incoming traffic with a dunk from the right side for a 20-8 lead.

While Bruggenwirth, who finished with 11 points (nine by halftime), sent aggression at the rim, the Mustangs tried to use their physicality to frustrate the Steamers, but it backfired.

By the end of the first quarter, the Mustangs had put Fulton in the bonus, and the Steamers capitalized by making 12 of 16 free throws in the half.

Bruggenwirth and Cody Sanderson led a breakaway third-quarter charge which saw the Steamers race out to a 21-0 run. Sanderson had two big plays in the string: He dished a behind-the-back pass in the paint to Keegan Kloepping for a three-point play with 3:40 left, and capped off the run with a 3 from the right wing with 2 minutes left.

Morrison didn’t score a second-half point until the 1:20 mark of the third quarter.

Sanderson led the Steamers with 14 points.

Ottens made one other 3-pointer in the game and finished leading the Mustangs with six points.

West Carroll 36, Kewanee 30: Free throws down the stretch iced a win for the Thunder against the Boilermakers at Stan Borgman Court.

West Carroll’s slow-down style of play frustrated Kewanee for 20 total fouls, and the Thunder played the entire fourth quarter in the bonus. After Kody Plattenberger put up an inside spin move to tie the game at 30, the Thunder made six free throws the rest of the way.

Plattenberger led the Thunder with 15 points, and took a charge with 29.5 seconds remaining with his team up by four. Dawson Wurster and Jacob Dunk added seven points each for the Thunder.

Kavon Russell led the Boilers with 12 points.

Stockton 47, Scales Mound 27: Alex Staver led the Blackhawks with 26 points in an East Dubuque Regional quarterfinal win over the Hornets.

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