Sabers take Topper title

DANVILLE — Did you hear? There’s a good basketball team at St. Thomas More.

OK, revise that. There are two good varsity teams at the Champaign high school.

The girls’ program is top ranked in the state and the boys’ program improved to 4-0 Saturday, capturing team honors in the 46th Topper Classic at Schlarman by virtue of a 79-66 triumph against the host Hilltoppers.

“The girls have set the bar, and we’re trying to catch up,” STM coach Matt Kelley said. “It’s great that we’ve both done well.”

The Sabers had five double-figure scorers, led by seniors Mike Plecki (19 points) and Storm Joop (14 points). Freshmen Clavin Davis (12 points) and all-tournament pick Douglas Wallen (10 points) were joined in double figures by sophomore Lawrence Blomberg (10 points). Plecki grabbed a team-high eight rebounds.

“We move the ball well and attack the rim well,” Kelley said. “Nobody cares who gets credit as long as they help the team win.”

The Hilltoppers (0-4) stayed even after one quarter, 20-20, thanks to a 14-point outburst by Gannon Hughes. He finished with 16 points and was one of the four Hilltoppers who reached double figures.

Michael Simmons had 17 points, Chris Kuchefski had 15 (along with a game-high nine rebounds) and Gavin Stines scored all 10 of his points in the final 6:01.

“By far the best game we’ve played,” Schlarman coach Jason Henton said. “For the first time, we put two halves of basketball together. Normally, a team that is 0-4 would be down, but our guys are excited and everybody is real positive.”

A basket by Carson Kasbergen broke the final tie 26 seconds into the second quarter.

“Our goal is to improve every day and at the end of the year see where we’re at,” Kelley said. “We’re looking forward to every challenge.”

Paris 60, Shiloh 43. In the game that determined second place, Paris overcame a 33-31 deficit with a 15-2 run and never trailed during the final 9:10.

Shiloh’s Andrew Donithan had his fourth double-double in four games, leading the Raiders (2-2) with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Teammate Djante Castillo had 10 points.

“I like our effort level, but we’re not doing a good job of running our offense,” Shiloh coach Charlie Carver said. “Once that comes, we’ll be so much better.”

Shiloh held Paris’ Riley Spencer — the tourney MVP — scoreless.

“We did a really good job on him,” Carver said. “We need to get back and practice. I keep seeing things to work on, but we’ve had three games without a practice and that’s hard.”

STM 87, Paris 57. In a showdown between the tournament unbeatens, Wallen scored 26 points and Davis added 21 as St. Thomas More handled Paris. The Sabers led by a point after one quarter but expanded their lead to 13 by halftime. Davis (11) and Wallen (10) accounted for all but four of STM’s second-period points. Plecki added 13 points for the Sabers, nine in the second half. STM hit 20 of 25 free throws, including 11 of 13 in the second half.

Shiloh 68, Judah Christian 66. Judah’s Dylan Hamilton scored 12 of his game-high 35 points in the fourth quarter, rallying the Tribe into a 61-61 tie after regulation, but Shiloh pulled out the win during the four-minute extra session.

Cyrus Furgeson had 22 points, Donithan 19 and Kaleb Hood 15 for the Raiders. That trio had all seven of the team’s points in OT.

Judah’s Ethan Chitty scored 21 points, including five three-point baskets. Hamilton was 6 for 6 from the free throw line. Judah is 2-2.

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