Eagles reach 20-win mark, clinch second in league
RANTOUL — The Corn Belt Conference championship won't find itself on the list of accomplishments for Rantoul this season.
Normal U-High already has wrapped up that distinction with an unblemished league mark and one conference game left Friday.
Runner-up honors in the eight-team league, however, belong solely to the Eagles after Rantoul defeated Bloomington Central Catholic 70-62 on Tuesday.
A season with at least 20 wins does, too.
Rantoul guard Travis Britt led a caravan of seniors playing their final regular season home game with 28 points and seven rebounds. Besides securing its spot in the league standings with two conference games left, Rantoul will have won at least 20 games this season for the first time since 1989-90.
"It's special," said Darian Dorsey, who contributed 13 points and five rebounds. "It doesn't happen that often for the community, and it's nice to finally show some positives from Rantoul."
Rantoul coach Brett Frerichs was a senior guard on the '89-90 team. None of the current players were born yet.
"I'm getting old," Frerichs said. "We had a team that was similar to this team in that they could run the court and had good athletes. It's something that you'll never forget hitting that 20-win plateau. I don't think we're going to be satisfied with just 20 wins. Our ultimate goal is to win a regional."
Rantoul (20-4, 10-2) pushed its winning streak to six games with the win against the Saints (10-15, 6-7) heading into the Eagles' game Friday night at rival Mahomet-Seymour. The Eagles played sluggishly at times in the third quarter after leading 29-22 at halftime, committing seven turnovers to see their lead trimmed to 44-42 at the start of the fourth quarter.
Britt asserted himself with aggressive drives to the basket and finished with four dunks, including a one-handed stuff on BCC's Nate Atkins that resulted in a traditional three-point play.
to put Rantoul up 52-46 with 5 minutes, 5 seconds left.
"We all know we can get those threes any time we want," Britt said. "I saw a couple gaps, and it was easy getting to the lane. It was just finishing over the top of them."
Rantoul saw its lead cut to 58-54 with less than three minutes left after a bucket inside by BCC's Jack Hester, but Rantoul's C.J. Morris drained his second three-pointer of the season from the left corner to give the Eagles a 61-54 lead with 2:13 remaining.
BCC never got closer than six points the rest of the way.
"We were on the fast break, and I spotted up," Morris said. "The ball came up a little short, and that's when I realized it was a three. I had to take a step back. I just fired it up and shot it with confidence."