MONTICELLO — The Sages are headed to the championship game of the Holiday Hoopla for the first time since 2009 and will try to win their own tournament again since doing so five years ago.
Junior Nick Stokowski led Monticello with a game-high 16 points and eight rebounds in a 63-30 win against Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley in the second day of pool play Thursday. The Sages led 42-15 at halftime.
Isaac Bales turned in a complete performance, hitting two treys as part of an eight-point, six-rebound night. More important, the senior point guard dished out four assists and didn’t turn the ball over once.
“It’s always an important goal because you do have the ball a lot,” Bales said of playing a clean game. “It’s good to get the other guys the ball.”
Monticello (9-1) has been the most dominant team of the tournament heading into Friday night’s championship game. The Sages haven’t been threatened in wins against GCMS, Neoga and Sangamon Valley.
But they know the competition picks up on the final day of a tournament.
Monticello will play Blue Ridge (10-3) at 7:30 p.m. Friday with the Hoopla title on the line.
Bales hadn’t had a chance to see the Knights play during the tournament but said he knows “they’re very quick and athletic.”
“It’s going to be a good game,” he said.
Blue Ridge coach Kyle Watson is eager to see how his team matches up against the talented Sages.
“We haven’t played in the championship in a long time,” Watson said. “It’ll be a great test for our kids. We’ve won as many games this year by Dec. 27 that we did all of last year (10).”
Mount Zion 80, Tuscola 49. Senior Sharom Shabrou finished with 17 points and eight rebounds in 19 minutes for the Warriors. Freshman Nick Bates had a game-high five assists in the loss.
Blue Ridge 55, Ridgeview 49. The Knights cooled off from Wednesday’s 95-point outburst against Mount Zion but hit enough free throws down the stretch to hang on against the Mustangs.
Junior Will Duggins poured in a game-high 16 points for Blue Ridge, and junior Michael Plunk added 15.
Junior Trey McCormick paced Ridgeview with 14 points, and senior Matt Barnes joined him in double figures with 13.
Mount Zion 63, Ridgeview 62. Colton Calhoun hit three free throws with no time remaining on the clock to help the Braves sneak past the Mustangs.
Calhoun was fouled on a halfcourt heave after Ridgeview’s McCormick broke a 60-60 tie by sinking a jumper with 10 seconds left.
Mount Zion trailed 26-13 after the first quarter.
McCormick led three Mustangs in double figures with 16 points. Barnes added 12 points and Cary Winterland 11 for Ridgeview.
Blue Ridge 70, Tuscola 61. Duggins shot 9 of 13 from the floor and poured in a game-high 21 points to lead the Knights in their tuneup for Friday night’s tournament championship.
Clint O’Neal had 16 points and Plunk finished with 15 points and four assists for Blue Ridge.
Dustin Haake paced Tuscola with 17 points.