Garowski, Bott lead B-H to sweep at Vermilion showcase
DANVILLE — Bismarck-Henning was in a zone Saturday night.
That’s usually a good sign for a basketball team’s shooters.
For the Vermilion County champion Blue Devils, it was a reflection on their active play on defense. With more than 2,000 spectators watching at Palmer Arena, state-ranked B-H limited Westville to one field goal during each of the first three quarters and posted a 40-26 triumph in the title game of the 88th annual tournament.
“Everyone thinks you’re in a zone and you’re not that good,” said B-H senior Wilde Garowski, who cleared a game-high 11 rebounds, “but we showed what we can do.”
With a starting lineup that includes the 6-foot-8 Garowski and 6-5 Andy Bott, B-H scored three of its first four baskets on rebound efforts and never trailed.
“We had hands up on their shooters and did an exceptional job rotating and cutting off penetration,” Blue Devils coach Jon Clapp said.
The county crown was the fourth in the last eight years for B-H and marks the sixth time in tourney history that the same school has swept the boys’ and girls’ divisions in the same year. B-H also did it in 2008 and 2012. Hoopeston Area recorded the feat in 1997. Oakwood doubled up twice, in 1985 and 1986.
“I’m happier for the kids than for myself,” Clapp said, “because I know how had they work in practice.”
All-tournament picks Dylan Allen and Chase Connelly each scored 10 points to lead the Blue Devils. Connelly and Bott each had seven rebounds as B-H (18-1) held a 27-13 edge on the boards.
“Their defense made it difficult to score inside, and when you can’t score inside, it allows the defense on the perimeter to extend,” said Westville coach Jeff Millis, whose team was the defending tournament champion. “They made us shoot from a step farther out than we’d like and maybe a little quicker.”
Jeffery Thompson scored a game-high 12 points for the Tigers (9-8). Eight points came in the final six minutes.
“Coach preaches work hard and be active,” Allen said.
Top-seeded B-H had a wakeup call in its tournament opener, edging Oakwood by three points.
“People thought we were a fluke,” said Garowski, whose team was ranked in a tie for sixth in the latest Class 2A state poll, “but we’ve been working since Day 1 to get ready for the big stage.”
A layup by Garowski gave the Blue Devils their biggest lead (36-17) with 2 minutes, 23 seconds remaining.
Saturday’s game was the first for the schools against each other this season. A rematch will happen Friday in Westville.
“We’ve played against a lot of zone and played well against zones,” Millis said. “We’ll be fine. Bismarck’s zone is a little different and having 6-5 and 6-8 inside makes a difference.”
Dalton Hilligoss was Westville’s top rebounder with four. The Tigers’ Tanner Cox — who suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in football — made his first appearance of the season, playing four minutes in the first half.
Three players scored in double figures for Salt Fork (16-5), which bounced back from a semifinal loss to hand Hoopeston Area a 46-36 loss.
The key numbers came on the boards, where the Storm held a 32-18 edge. Salt Fork had more rebounds in the third period (13) than Hoopeston had total entering the fourth quarter (12).
“When you’re struggling offensively, if you don’t create opportunities, you’ll have bigger struggles,” Salt Fork coach Andrew Johnson said. “This was one of our top performances, as far as rebounding efforts.”
Cole Taylor (14 points, 11 rebounds) and Max Stutsman (11 points, 10 rebounds) each had double-doubles for Salt Fork. Ross Learnard scored 13 points, 10 in the second quarter.
“Our defense was there,” Johnson said. Salt Fork limited the Cornjerkers to 21.4 percent accuracy during the second half (6 for 28).
“Offensively, we’ve hit a little slump, but this is a good teaching moment, showing us what we need to work on,” Johnson said.
Stutsman was the tournament’s top scorer.
Mason Layden led the Cornjerkers (9-8) with 13 points. He also had a team-high four rebounds.
Oakwood showed its balance as it rallied to beat Georgetown-Ridge Farm 48-30. The Comets (7-11) received points from seven players, but none reached double figures.
“They fought hard, even when things weren’t going our way, and that’s what I want to see,” Oakwood coach Doug Robinson said, “a team that can finish games even when things aren’t going our way.”
Skyler Slade led the Comets with nine points. Parker Lee had a team-high seven rebounds.
The Comets’ non-starters contributed 12 points, including five from Landon Turner during a 14-0 burst that started after the Buffaloes created a 27-27 tie.
“That’s a kid who will do anything without question,” Robinson said. “He works hard and gets results.”
Rylee Goodwin hit four three-pointers and led G-RF (5-16) with 14 points. Dylan Bina had a team-high seven rebounds.
In the decisive fourth quarter, Oakwood hit 8 of 12 shots while limiting G-RF to 1-for-9 accuracy.
“To have that kind of fourth quarter is exciting to see,” Robinson said. “It goes back to finishing games.”
Oakwood won the annual cheerleading competition, followed by G-RF, Salt Fork and Westville.
NAME YR. SCHOOL
Dylan Allen So. Bismarck-Henning
Kyle Brazas Sr. Westville
Chase Connelly Sr. Bismarck-Henning
Wilde Garowski Sr. Bismarck-Henning
Rylee Goodwin Jr. Georgetown-Ridge Farm
Mason Layden Sr. Hoopeston Area
Ross Learnard Sr. Salt Fork
Parker Lee Jr. Oakwood
Max Stutsman Sr. Salt Fork
Jeffery Thompson Sr. Westville