Boys Basketball: Seton reaches Class 2A title game
By Patrick Z. McGavin For Sun-Times Media March 8, 2013 10:04PM
Jacoby Polsey, of Winnebago, drives as Seton's Mark Weems defends during Friday night's Class 2A state semifinal at Carver Arena in Peoria. | AP Photo/Ron Johnson, Peoria Journal Star
Updated: April 11, 2013 6:39AM
PEORIA — For one quarter, the Class 2A state semifinal between Seton and undefeated Winnebago had all the makings of an edge-of-your-seat thriller. The electrifying opening quarter had three ties and four lead changes.
Suddenly, without warning, No. 6 Seton accelerated to another gear, especially defensively, and Winnebago was left clutching at straws.
“The bottom dropped out of us,” Winnebago coach Joe Murphy said.
The Sting shut out the Indians in the second quarter, blitzing Winnebago with a stunning 19-0 run.
Seton went on to methodically dismantle Winnebago 62-37 at the Carver Arena in the Peoria Civic Center Friday night.
The convincing victory propels the Sting (22-1) to its second state championship appearance. Behind star guard D.J. Cooper, Seton captured the 2009 Class 2A state title. Interestingly, the Sting beat Winnebago in the state semifinals that year.
Seton advances to Saturday’s night Class 2A state championship against Harrisburg.
Friday’s impressive victory marked a radical shift from a year ago, when the favored Sting fell in the state semifinals and finished fourth.
Seton shut out Winnebago (32-1) for more than 11 minutes from the field. Winnebago managed only three free throws in the second quarter as Seton’s quickness and length disoriented the normally precise shooting team.
“We knew one thing about this tournament is that we have the most length of anybody here,” Seton 6-foot-8 senior forward Alex Foster said.
Winnebago shot just 1-of-15 on three-pointers in the first half. The Indians finished the game 4-of-34 on three-pointers. Seton held them to 22 percent shooting (15-of-68) from the field.
“We told the kids that Winnebago shot more than 30 three-pointers in their supersectional, and I felt in order for them to stay close, they had to hit eight to 10,” Seton coach Brandon Thomas said. “We knew who their scorers were, and we wanted to account for them at all times, and to be there on the catch.”
Senior guard Kamal Shasi broke the game’s final tie by converting two free throws for a 15-13 Seton lead. The Sting never looked back.
Johnny Patterson, a lithe 6-8 reserve center, scored on a tip-in, starting the Seton onslaught. He scored eight of his 12 points in the second quarter.
“I just wanted to run them off the floor,” Patterson said. “I felt very comfortable out there and I was able to go out there and find my spaces on the floor.”
Senior guard Mark Weems Jr. scored nine of his game-high 16 points in the second quarter. His three-point bomb from the left wing punctuated the second-quarter dominance, pushing the Sting to a 37-16 lead at the break.
“It was a lot of fun out there,” Weems Jr. said.
Guard Armahn Mooring also was spectacular for the Sting. He hit two three-pointers in the first quarter and hit all four of his shots from the field in contributing 11 points for the Sting.
“I’m a good shooter,” he said. “The coaches have a lot of confidence in me, and I had the ball in good places.”
Seton held a 9-0 first-half advantage in points off turnovers.
The Sting suffered through a difficult stretch offensively in the third quarter, scoring just four points in the first seven minutes of the period. But Winnebago also continued to struggle, managing just eight points in the quarter.
Foster’s monster dunk put the Sting up 43-24 to start the fourth quarter.
Winnebago star senior guard Matt Reinke scored 15 points, though he was harassed into 6-of-22 shooting, including just 2-of-11 on three-point attempts. Jacoby Posley contributed 12 points; he also shot just 2-of-12 from beyond the arc.
By contrast, eight different Seton players scored. Guard Jaylin Clemons registered nine points, five rebounds and three assists.
The Sting’s only downside was shooting just 11-of-21 from the free-throw line.
“We just had to get the nerves and jitters out at the start,” Foster said.
“I told the kids, ‘Even I’m nervous, but we settled down, especially after that first quarter,” Thomas said.